Friends, family remember Powhatan Deputy Robbie Green on the 10th anniversary of his death
By Laura McFarland News Editor
POWHATAN – Several times throughout the day on Sept. 20, many of the people who loved and respected the late Deputy Robert “Robbie” E. Green said it was hard to believe he had really been gone 10 years.
Green, the only Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office deputy to be lost in the line of duty, died at age 33 on Sept. 20, 2006, when his patrol car crashed on Red Lane Road as he and other officers were responding to offer assistance in a vehicle pursuit.
But while there were definitely moments of sadness and reflecting on what might have been, those who gathered throughout the day at Independence Golf Course for an event designed to honor Green and show appreciation to current law enforcement chose to focus on the positives of the man he was and the good times they had with him.
Deputy Wayne Morris recalled Green’s deep voice and the way his positive outlook was always so infectious.
“If you were in a bad mood and you were around him for any time, he would cheer you up. He would make you laugh, he would do something, but you couldn’t stay in a bad mood around him,” Morris said.
Deputy Matt Baltimore recalled the excitement of learning he and Green would be training together in late 1999 and starting as Powhatan deputies at the same time in January 2000.
“We had known each other our whole lives. It was an exciting time we were going to start together, and we both looked forward to it for the same reason that all of these guys probably still do, just to serve the county,” Baltimore said.
Jason Green, one of the fallen deputy’s brothers, shared the memory of his son’s first birthday, the only one Robbie Green attended before he died.
“We both were enjoying the excitement, nervousness and responsibility of entering fatherhood. With him having a year and half jump on me, I called him a lot that first year with many questions,” said Jason Green of Powhatan.
A day of recognition
Members of the sheriff’s office and Green’s family always do something at this time of year to honor Green, including an ongoing memorial softball tournament, Sheriff Brad Nunnally said. When Giff Breed, president of Independence Golf Course, offered to host Back the Badge Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, he told them he was entirely open to the department’s request to hold the event on Sept. 20 so they could also honor Green.
Having that time of remembrance each year is important to the sheriff’s office, as well as other law enforcement agencies, even though there are many officers that participate who never knew or served with Green, Nunnally said. The importance lies in remembering the dedication Green brought to his role as a deputy and the sacrifice he made serving the people of Powhatan County.
“His life was dedicated to service, and he died in the line of duty doing his duty,” Nunnally said. “Every year we take an opportunity at least on the anniversary of his death to celebrate the fact that we got the opportunity to work with him and know him and celebrate the fact that he was doing what he loved to do, which was serve Powhatan.”
The event featured an informal golf tournament that included officers from Powhatan, the Virginia State Police, and other jurisdictions. The evening closed with a reception for families with food, music, and children’s activities.
During the evening event, a short ceremony recognized the golf course and other sponsors for holding the event and shared a little about Green.
Chief Deputy Adam Sadler recognized members of Green’s family who were present, including his brothers, mother, widow, son, and in-laws, and pointed out the deep roots and strong history of service both sides of the family have had in Powhatan County.
He also talked about the good things that came from the tragedy of losing Green, such as the tradition that started the year after he died of taking a group to participate in National Police Week activities in Washington, D.C. every May. The activities include a ceremony held at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which had Green’s name added in 2007.
“It is just a special time. If you have never had the opportunity to go up there as a law enforcement officer, I highly recommend it. It is something that is moving,” Sadler said. “It makes you appreciate your family when you get back. It also makes you stop and think about what you are doing.”
First Sgt. Wayne Holland with the Virginia State Police talked about a photo that hangs in the Area 6 office of Green and other deputies messing around in the sheriff’s office. In the photo, Green has a “big old smile on his face.”
“For me, when I think about the bad times, I know what happened. I know how devastating it was,” Holland said. “But I also can look at that and take a good memory from it and just enjoy that almost every day when I walk past it. Especially in law enforcement, there is a bond that is special. To be a part of it for all the years I have been around, I am grateful.”
Remembering Robbie Green
Robbie Green was a proud Powhatan County native son, Jason Green said. He grew up with his parents, Jean and Charlie Green, and two brothers, Jason and Charlie, and the family attended church at Red Lane Baptist. Robbie Green was a youth counselor at Peaks of Otter Royal Ambassador Camp as a teenager and was a member of the Powhatan High School Class of 1991.
He served in the U.S. Army Reserve and then transferred to the U.S. National Guard unit in Powhatan. When he became a deputy, he was about to get married, his brother said.
“He got out of the Guard and really whole heartedly pursued law enforcement. He was on the tactical team as well as midnight shift,” Jason Green said.
Becoming a Powhatan deputy was a prize Robbie Green had his eye on, and he had a few different jobs before going into his chosen career, said Baltimore, who was also his shift partner.
The excitement of the more unpredictable night shift was part of what made it attractive to the two younger deputies, Baltimore said. Working a 12-hour overnight shift is tough, but he said Green made it work with his life with his wife, Karen, and son, Chaytor.
“He would go home from a midnight shift at 7 a.m., take his son to school, go home and take a nap, get up and go back to school to have lunch with his son, come home and take a quick nap before coming back to work,” Baltimore said. “That to me always stood out about how passionate he was to do both things, be there for his son and to come back to work and do a good job for the people of the county. That was always neat.”
Jason Green said his brother didn’t talk about his police work much, and he always thought that was in part out of respect to the victims involved.
“Outside of work, he was really just a family guy,” he said.
Charlie Green said his brother didn’t tend to ask for help, but he was always ready to give it. If he called on his brother for help, he could trust that Robbie would show up.
Since losing their brother, Jason and Charlie Green said they have been humbled by the way Robbie’s fellow law enforcement officers stepped up and treated them like brothers. Looking around before the golfing event, which was made up almost entirely of law enforcement officers, Charlie Green said everybody there was family.
“Everybody is a family here. We lost a brother 10 years ago, but we gained a million brothers in a sense. They are here for us. If we called them, they will be there,” he said.
In addition to being remembered as a great deputy and family man, Green’s legacy is evident in the hundreds of people who attended the event on Sept. 20 to honor him and other law enforcement officers who are dedicated to protecting and serving their communities, Baltimore said.
He said it truly doesn’t feel as if it has been 10 years since he lost his friend and fellow officer, but maybe that is because it feels like part of Robbie Green will always be here.
“I kind of like to think since we started together and were really close, if something good happens to me, it is happening to him, too. We share that. Sometimes if something happens I will just look over in the passenger seat and say ‘Hey, did you see that?’ It kind of feels like he is still riding with me,” Baltimore said.
Laura McFarland may be reached at [email protected].