In 2009, Corporal Mike Roberts , a Tampa, Florida police officer with strong ties to Newfoundland, was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Now an anonymous donor has established an award in his memory that will benefit those enrolled in the Faculty of Arts’ Diploma in Police Studies program.
A graduate of Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration and dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Corporal Roberts served his community with honour and distinction over his many years on the force and earned numerous commendations and awards, including one for life-saving in 2005.
His wife Cindy Roberts says that Mike had a simple philosophy when it came to his police work – to use the least amount of pressure needed to exact the change needed.
“He always treated others with respect,” she says. She explains his habit of carrying several extra drinks in his cooler when he went to work.
“If he met someone during a particularly stressful event he would offer them a bottle of water to help them calm down. That makes his murder so hard to understand. He was kind to everybody.”
After his parents’ divorced in the late 1970s, the eight-year-old Michael Roberts and his mother moved to St. John’s, her hometown. He attended Gonzaga high school before doing his degree at Memorial and then returned to Florida after his university convocation.
Cindy Roberts recalls her husband regularly discussing his time in Newfoundland and recommending it as a vacation spot for its picturesque views, distinct history and warm people.
“During one of our visits, we drove by Memorial and he described the buildings, including the Aquarena and the MUNnels. He was proud to attend Memorial and his degree was very important to him,” says Mrs. Roberts, who lives in Tampa with their son Adam.
She is grateful and “warmed” by the creation of the Cpl. Michael J. Roberts Memorial Award in Police Studies.
“Mike grew up in a low income environment and he worked hard to complete his studies. He would be thrilled to know that someone else will be able to attend school without the worry and burden wondering how the fees will be paid, says Mrs. Roberts. “The benefactors are doing a wonderful thing in keeping Mike’s spirit alive through this endowment.”