Virginia’s longest-serving sheriff, B.J. Roberts, dies 2 weeks before planned retirement

Virginia's longest-serving sheriff dies 2 weeks before retirement

HAMPTON, Va. (WWBT) - Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts, Virginia’s longest serving sheriff, died Saturday after spending Christmas Day with his family.

Hampton Sheriff’s Office announced the leader’s passing in a social media post on Saturday, saying he transitioned “peacefully at home.”

After 28 years as sheriff, Roberts announced earlier this month that he would retire on Jan. 8. He was first elected in 1992, and was re-elected to serve six terms.

During Roberts’ leadership, the Hampton Sheriff’s Office was awarded the nationally-accredited Triple Crown award. This brought the department accreditation from the American Correctional Association, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

Sheriff B.J. Roberts sits next to the Hampton Sheriff's Office's Triple Crowd Award, given to the department in 2009.
Sheriff B.J. Roberts sits next to the Hampton Sheriff's Office's Triple Crowd Award, given to the department in 2009. (Source: Hampton Sheriff's Office)

In 2010, Roberts was sworn in as the 69th president of the National Sheriff’s Association, making him the first and only African American to hold the title in the organization’s 70-year history. In his role, Roberts’ presided over nearly 19,000 members.

In his lifetime, Roberts had nearly 50 years of law enforcement service in the Hampton Roads area.

Many in the Hampton community expressed their condolences, including Rep. Bobby Scott, VA-3.

“Sheriff Roberts served our community for decades in law enforcement, first as a patrolman with the Newport News Police Department, then rising through the ranks of the Hampton University Campus Police to become the University’s Director of Police and Public Safety, and for the last 28 years as Hampton’s sheriff. His 1992 election as sheriff was trailblazing as he became the first African American constitutional officer elected in Hampton’s history,” Scott said in a statement. “His passing is a tremendous loss for Hampton and the entire Commonwealth.”

B.J. Roberts reads to children in uniform.
B.J. Roberts reads to children in uniform. (Source: Hampton Sheriff's Office)

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