Citizens of Tampa
Tampa Fire Rescue
Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office
Tampa Business Community
Law enforcement is a unique profession, some would say it is a calling. It is defined by service and attracts those who truly believe they can make a positive difference in their community. We handle calls from the mundane to life threatening and there is usually a definable difference between the two. Corporal Mike Roberts was doing something that every police officer has done a hundred times, something we call routine, that turned out to be anything but. Despite him taking every precaution and doing things by the book, a seemingly standard call turned fatal.
Around 10:00pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009, an evening indistinguishable from any other, Corporal Roberts was taken from us. No one will ever be able to provide an acceptable explanation for why he died; not one that will provide comfort, ease the pain or eliminate the anger. All we can do is accept that a fine man has been taken from us. We can honor his memory and take care of his family, ensuring that his son grows up surrounded by positive memories of his father.
As we begin the struggle to regain a sense of normalcy, the men and women of the Tampa Police Department would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who valiantly tried to save Corporal Mike Robert's life, who paid tribute to his service and who ultimately provided him the honorable burial that he deserved.
To our brothers and sisters at Tampa Fire Rescue, you rushed to the scene and continued the rescue efforts begun by his fellow officers. Under tremendous pressure, as the officers begged you to accomplish a miracle, Mike was rushed to Tampa General Hospital. Once at the hospital, the trauma staff took over, working against hope and reason to try and save his life. The staff at Tampa General Hospital opened their arms and took in an anxious cadre of officers, each searching for a sign of hope in the face of anyone who rushed in and out of the operating room. Each of you fought with all your might, armed only with the knowledge that this was a police officer that patrolled the streets of your community. Our unending gratitude, not only for what you did for Corporal Roberts, but for what you do each and every day. You are truly angels in ordinary clothing.
When the worst news a police officer could receive had to be delivered, Mayor Iorio was standing alongside her police officers. She has always been there for us and this instance was no exception. Although she is not used to the horrible realities that police officers encounter throughout their careers, she was standing tall, consoling and being consoled as we grieved over the senseless loss of such a fine man. She was there every step of the way, providing her heartfelt support to the family and officers. This is just one of the reasons that she has earned the respect and admiration of all the members of the Tampa Police Department.
To the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and surrounding law enforcement agencies, you arrived moments after Corporal Robert's had fallen, assisting with the capture of the suspect. And you never left our sides, patrolling the city streets and clearing the path of travel to his final resting place, while we focused on our loss. We want you to know that your actions have not gone unnoticed and are truly appreciated.
To the business community we say thank you. As we moved through the process of honoring Mike, you were there to provide whatever was needed. From the funeral home, to the limousine service, church staff and so many others, you were there when we were in need.
Although some would say we should expect it, the community's reaction to this horrific event and the outpouring of support caught us all by surprise. We go about the business of keeping our streets safe everyday, without expectation of recognition or appreciation. The magnitude of the support was overwhelming. There are no adequate phrases to describe our gratitude. We were each deeply touched by this display and, however unfortunate the circumstances, we will carry this wonderful memory forever.
In the end, we cannot make sense of such a tragic loss. We can however accept the kindness, thoughts and prayers of our supportive community. And that in reality is all we need.
Chief Hogue & the Men and Women of the Tampa Police Department