Long­time po­lice ex­ec­u­tive Lonzo Rober­son dies

He served 40-plus years with the Rome Po­lice Depart­ment.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Doug Walker DWalker@RN-T.com

Long­time Rome po­lice ex­ec­u­tive Lonzo Rober­son, who rose to the rank of deputy po­lice chief, died early Fri­day af­ter­noon at the age of 68.

Rober­son was hired onto the city po­lice force in 1972 and re­tired in De­cem­ber of 2012 after a lit­tle more than 40 years with the depart­ment. He came back in 2016 and served as in­terim chief twice, be­tween Hu­bert Smith and Elaine Snow, then again be­tween Snow and cur­rent Po­lice Chief Denise Downer-McKin­ney.

Rober­son served as the right hand man to re­tired chief Hu­bert Smith for many years. Smith said he hated to get the news Fri­day be­cause Rober­son was not only a part­ner on the po­lice force but also a long­time per­sonal friend.

“He had that leader in­stinct about him,” Smith said. “He was a well-in­formed po­lice of­fi­cer and had a way of get­ting along with peo­ple.”

Smith said he re­called one in­stance where Rober­son talked a Viet­nam veteran out of com­mit­ting sui­cide.

Rober­son was a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Viet­nam him­self.

Re­tired City Man­ager John Ben­nett called Rober­son “a re­ally great team player.” Ben­nett said Rober­son’s cool de­meanor served him well.

“He had a good sense of what was right and what was wrong and how to treat peo­ple,” Ben­nett said.

“His strength was peo­ple,” Snow said. “He was the type of per­son you could agree to dis­agree with, but he was al­ways re­spect­ful of the other per­son’s opin­ion.”

City Man­ager Sammy Rich called Rober­son’s death a tragedy.

“He was such an ex­cep­tional hu­man be­ing,” Rich said. “I hate that he’s not get­ting to have a long and fruit­ful re­tire­ment be­cause I can’t think of a more de­serv­ing per­son. We’re think­ing about the fam­ily right now. There’s never go­ing to be an­other one like Lonzo.”

The pub­lic safety genes in Rober­son’s blood were strong, as sons Brad and Dave Rober­son have also made it their ca­reer. Brad is the di­rec­tor of field op­er­a­tions for the Rome-Floyd County Fire Depart­ment and Dave is a Ma­jor with the Floyd County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment. Rober­son is also sur­vived by his wife of 47 years, Be Rober­son.

Downer-McKin­ney said one thing she re­mem­bers is that when Rober­son re­tired he said that when he walked out the door he wasn’t go­ing to be one of those who kept com­ing back.

“But he loved his law en­force­ment fam­ily,” Downer-McKin­ney said. “This is such a shock for all of us.”

Rome-Floyd County Fire Chief Troy Brock said Rober­son was well thought of across the en­tire pub­lic safety com­mu­nity, not just in Rome but across the en­tire re­gion.

Dave said that his fa­ther died from com­pli­ca­tions of can­cer and pneu­mo­nia.

“We got him bap­tized again be­fore he passed,” Dave said. “Floyd Med­i­cal Cen­ter was great about that.”

Aside from polic­ing, his horse ranch and his grand­chil­dren were his pas­sion. Dave said his fa­ther loved his two grand­chil­dren.

Fu­neral ar­range­ments and a com­plete obituary will be re­leased at a later time.

Lonzo Rober­son

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