Before the nice Roger Brooks became a policeman at the age of 35, he had a number of careers. He was a professional photographer, trained at the NY Institute of Photography, and worked as chief staff photographer at both the Milford Citizen and eventually, the News-Times, in Danbury. He then ran his own photography studio, which led to his involvement with Teleprompter, running their local channel (ask him about the Halloween newscast). After he left there, he became a successful insurance salesman, working locally in Danbury.
In 1979, an old friend, now working as a police officer, bet him $5 that he couldn’t pass the entry test for the Danbury Police Department. Roger won the bet, and became a uniform patrol officer. His old friend, who had graduated first in his police academy class, refused to pay up, preferring to up the ante by betting that Roger couldn’t do better than him at the academy. Roger did as well, coming in first in his academy class, winning the Samuel J. Luciano Award for Academic Achievement, in December, 1979. Roger maintains to this day that his friend welshed on the bet and still owes him $5.
Roger spent a number of years in the patrol division, becoming somewhat notorious for his penchant for chasing cars, and arresting drunk drivers. One shift commander, weary of signing overtime slips (many DUI stops seemed to occur at shift change), ordered him to park his patrol car in the department parking lot well before the end of his shift. Roger stopped a DUI, in front of the police station, on his way in to comply with the order. Oops. In 1984, he set the record for most DUI’s in the department, and was named Officer of the Year, receiving an award from the Rotary Club.
Roger’s background in photography eventually led to his involvement in the formation of the Danbury Police Dept’s crime scene unit. He remained with the Crime Scene unit until 1998. During his tenure there, he became a latent print examiner and a crime scene reconstructionist. After joining the International Association for Identification, he also became both a certified senior crime scene analyst and certified bloodstain pattern analyst. Almost all subsequent Danbury Police crime scene unit members received their basic training from Roger. He taught re-certification classes to members of area departments as part of ongoing police training. In the late 1990’s, he worked occasionally for ICITAP (International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program), a joint State/Justice Department program to provide US-style training to police in countries previously under authoritarian rule, or at war. This led to his overseas travel (using his vacation time) to such global garden spots as Haiti, just after ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was deposed, Panama, just after Manuel Noriega was deposed, and both Bosnia and the Serb Republic, just after the shooting had allegedly stopped (ask him about being pulled over by a tank).
In 1998, Roger accepted a promotion to detective (after turning down promotions to sergeant) and left full-time crime scene work. He continued to work the occasional crime scene as a technician, as well as continuing to teach various crime scene classes. As his skills as an investigator grew, he found himself gravitating towards new areas of law enforcement such as fraud and financial crime, identity theft, and consumer fraud, . When asked how his day was, his most frequent answer was, “Typing, typing, typing.” But much of that typing was for warrants for criminals who had embezzled from a small business, or home repair scammers who had ripped off an elderly person, or counterfeiters running a bootleg CD factory, among other crimes. He worked not only with the Danbury Police, but with virtually all of the area departments, as well as the USPS Postal Inspectors, CT Department of Consumer Protection, the US Secret Service, the CT State Police, and the FBI. I’m sure I’m overlooking an agency, but you get the idea.
His last week on the job, he worked overtime three days out of five, finished a couple of cases close to his heart, did roll-call training for the patrol division, and one day, assisted patrol officers in making an immediate felony arrest of unlicensed home repairmen who had ripped off an elderly couple to the tune of $7,000.
May 1, 2017 was his last full day at work. I posted a short note on Facebook, and the department also posted, putting up a picture of Roger and other detectives, along with Chief Ridenhour and Deputy Chief McColgan, congratulating him on his years of service. For the next 36 hours, he got notification after notification of ‘Like’ buttons being pressed, uniformly laudatory comments being made, and the police department photo being shared by family and friends alike. He kept saying, “I don’t get it.” It would appear that this accomplished, honorable and dedicated police officer genuinely thought that no one was paying attention, as he did his job with enthusiasm, expertise, and courage, for 38 years. I, as his wife, am enormously gratified that I am not the only one who noticed. I thank you, one and all.