The Face of Authority
by Melanee Parker | April 2011
At first glance Daryl Roberts doesn't strike me as the man who would be Chief of the Hartford Police
Department. Admittedly, I don't have much to base this opinion on. The closest example of a police
Chief I've ever come close to is Chief Wiggum from "The Simpsons" who is a horrible stereotype.
Sadly he represents what comes to mind for most people. Roberts on the other hand has a relaxed
authoritative demeanor that is the direct opposite of the other wildly popularized image of chief -
a man sitting behind a desk verbally abusing everyone.
With that rumor dispelled I was bursting to ask the burning and loaded question, “What does a
police chief do?” Without skipping a beat, Roberts replies, “A lot.” That is in no way an
exaggeration as he proceeds to rattle off a long list of duties beginning with overseeing the
conduct of over 400 police officers and administrative staff. There's also a matter of public
safety, community relations and services. Not to mention point 1 crimes- Murder, rape, robbery,
aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft. This is all in a day's work for Roberts
who joined the police force in 1982. He was sworn in as Chief in 2006 and has since received
many prestigious honors; most notable he was named one of the most influential Blacks in 2009
by the NAACP. Regardless of these accolades, Roberts is not too proud to admit that being on
top isn't without challenges. Being appointed Chief of Police at a considerable younger age has some
questioning his authority. However, he takes it all in stride and sticks to his motto “success
is never final”.
This dedication to excellence and to his job might lead one to wonder when this man has time to
sleep, let alone spend time with his family. However he manages his time, it's done in a way that
allows him to be present and in touch with those who are most important to him. “My daughters have
never missed a day of school” he says proudly. He's heavily involved with their academic success
and never misses a parent teacher conference or school sponsored event. Having spent his life lacking
a solid relationship with his own father, the role of parent is not something that he takes lightly.
Born and raised Hartford, Roberts knows firsthand that the city is in desperate need of a turnaround
and revamping the reputation of the police is at the top of the list. For many who live in an Urban
setting, a fear of the police is a learned behavior. The mistrust causes a rift in the community
that is in desperate need of patching to make Hartford a safe area for its citizens. These are barriers
that Roberts is trying to remedy from the inside by making the police more “people friendly” and
accessible. One major project will be moving the police station from Jennings Road to High Street-
closer to the downtown area. It's a calculated move that will hopefully remove some of the mystique
of our local law enforcement. It's also the first of many steps that will need to transpire to make
the public feel that the police are working for them and not against them.
This attitude has been in place for decades, but has lately been assisted by the increase of police
themed movies and television that highlight an often unrealistic portrayal of everyday cops. In the
past 10 years there are have been no less than 60 television shows on the subject of crime in the
United States alone. Roberts shrugs off this information insisting that, “media promotes what sells”,
and that isn't going to take anything away from his plans to engage the public in their own success.
Elevating Hartford in to greatness seems like a lifelong excursion. Notwithstanding all of his
enthusiasm and confidence I'm sure Chief Roberts wouldn't mind speeding up the development. When
asked what crime fighting superhero he'd like to change places with for a day he jokingly replied,
“Batman..Hartford is Gotham City-and I'm Batman”.