James Roberts named Officer of the Year by Kiwanis Club of Concord

James Roberts named Officer of the Year by Kiwanis Club of Concord

James Roberts named Officer of the Year by Kiwanis Club of Concord
Master Officer James Roberts’ skill with the written word has been an invaluable asset in his work with the Concord community. (David Scholz photo)

CONCORD, CA (Jan. 28, 2024) — Master Officer James Roberts’ abilities to write and teach are examples of the little known skills that those in law enforcement nurture during a long career and find fulfilling in their work with those they are sworn to protect and serve.

So it has been journey that Roberts traveled enroute to being honored with the 17th Officer of the Year award by the Kiwanis Club of Concord.

“It made me feel good,” said Roberts of receiving the unexpected news. “Things we do as officers go unnoticed or unrecognized so to have the department recognize me for those things was tremendously fulfilling.”

The distinction of Master Officer is bestowed on Concord Police personnel who have served at least 15 years with the department and three special assignments outside their patrol duties. For Roberts this included four years with the Special Victims Unit.

He came to the department in 2001 after studying writing in college. There were not a lot of prospects heading his way after graduation, but a chance encounter with a Concord police officer at a wedding introduced him to the idea of applying to the department.

“I have only worked at Concord,” said Roberts. “I started here, and I will finish here.”

Recalling that original interview decades later, one skill that he thinks made him attractive was his ability to speak Spanish.

“It has come in very handy,” he said.

That ability to interact with citizens and establish a comfortable rapport has proven an invaluable skill that has served Roberts well in his two plus decades on the Concord force, and one he gladly instills in newly sworn officers he takes under his wing, as well as to those who transfer in from departments in other municipalities.

“That is probably one of the most favorite parts of the job is training officers,” he said of his mentoring capacity. “I have always loved teaching, and teaching this job has brought me joy.”

His skill with the written word has also been an invaluable asset. Roberts recalled a time when he was testifying in court and the veracity of what he documented in his report about the crime at the heart of the case. Cutting to the chase, the judge simply asked the victim if there was anything inaccurate. Hearing “no”, the report was immediately entered into evidence.

“Ninety percent is the pen,” said Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos of the work officers due to write reports and document what they are doing.

“This is an area where (James) excels. He gets great work product out of people,” Bustillos said of the assistance he given to other officers.

Additionally, “patience is one of my biggest virtues and I am not quick to anger,” Roberts continued, are qualities that been tremendously useful to him in the job and working with the people in Concord.

“Patience and communication are important for being an officer, and those have been skills that have helped me solve more problems than I realize,” he said.

Two episodes in particular in recent years may have proven even more defining for the officer Roberts has become.

He recalled a heartbreaking situation in which a family had discovered a loved who was deceased in their residence. But as traumatic as it was for those grieving individuals he was supporting, so too was it for other officers responding to the scene who James also counseled and aided.

In another situation, Roberts assisted the California Highway Patrol with an individual who was threatening to jump off an overpass. In plying his negotiating skills, his peers in that case were most appreciative of his abilities and trust.

“I think the skills I have learned and honed over the past 20 plus years have made me a better officer who is more capable of handling situations and mentoring those around me,” Roberts said.

Your Concord Police Officers

From Avila Road
An officer looks down
On the myriad streets
That make up this town
Nestled at the base
Of Monte del Diablo
Land given as a gift
To a Mexican soldado
Don Salvio Pacheco
Who was born in Monterey
Brought his family to live
In this land east of the Bay
Now it’s fair to assume
This officer may not know
That in Nineteen Twenty-Two
Concord was covered in snow
The officer may not have heard
Of Francisco Galindo
Of Wisteria festivals
Or the great fire on Salvio
It’s likely this officer
Won’t know much of Concord’s past
Which high school came first
Is not a question that gets asked
But perhaps I can tell you
If my words will allow
How we strive as your officers
To make each of you proud
Each minute of every day
We travel these streets
In a cruiser, black and white
Each assigned to a beat
We hunt and we chase
We watch and observe
We comfort and counsel
We arrest and we serve
We go where most won’t
To protect those in need
There’s no danger we won’t brave
For your safety in our creed
We hurt when you hurt
Shed tears for your pain
Find strength in your spirit
Which never shall wain
We will come when you call
And bring light to your darkness
We’ll stand as your advocate
In the halls of lawyers and judges
We’re not Jedi or Sages
But your guardians we’ll be
For as long as you’ll have us
In this, our land of the free
Robert Kennedy once said
Without any reserves
Every society gets the criminal
The kind of criminal it deserves
But equally as important
He admonished us all
The kind of law enforcement you get
Is the kind you insist answer the call.

—James Roberts

David Scholz
David Scholz

David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.