Skip to content
Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
The Voice of Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

For the month of January, we are excited to introduce to you City of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts. As of the start of 2020, Sheriff B.J. Roberts is now the most senior sheriff in Virginia, having served since November 1992.  We asked him to give us insight into his career as well as what inspires him outside of law enforcement. When asked what he is most proud of, Sheriff Roberts replied, “I am most proud of becoming the First African American to serve as President of the National Sheriffs’ Association and the first elected Sheriff and Constitutional Officer for the City of Hampton.”

If you’ve missed previous introductions of our Virginia Sheriffs, links to these posts may be found at the bottom of this page. We hope you will come to know and appreciate these individuals as much as we do! Our Sheriff introductions may also be found on our Facebook page, along with other interesting news items about our member sheriffs!


Get to Know Your Virginia Sheriffs – Hampton City Sheriff B.J. Roberts

  1. What are you working on that’s new and different?

We are currently working on building a state of the art jail facility and extending our inmate programs.

  1. What do you like most about your job?

This is a difficult question because I like every aspect of my job. In this business, you come to appreciate all that it takes to operate a jail. I like attending the various sheriffs’ conferences and learning new and innovative ways to better operate our facilities.

I enjoy open discussions with my deputies; I want to hear their perspective and ideas for this agency. I also love going out into the community and interacting with the citizens and participating in community outreach programs.

  1. Who have been mentors and/or role models in your life/career?

There are many people in my life that have influenced and helped me throughout my career. But I will narrow it to three mentors/role models that have helped mold me into the person that I am today.

The first is my father. He instilled in me at a very early age work ethic and discipline. Second, Mr. Wyatt, my first boss at Hampton University. He was very supportive and encouraged me to continue my education. It was his influence that helped prepare me for this job. Lastly, Mr. Clay Hester, he assisted in showing me how to get through the maze of being a sheriff, and understanding everything from Finance to Corrections to the Compensation Board. He taught me about commitment to the community and the value of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your time away from work?

I enjoy fishing and golfing.

  1. What are some of your favorite songs on your music playlist?

My favorite songs include “Baby Workout” by Jackie Wilson, “Send For Me” by Will Downing and “There’s No Me Without You” by Toni Braxton.

  1. What is your favorite book?

“Makes Me Wanna Holler” by Nathan McCall

  1. What sports/teams do you root for?

My favorite football team is the Seattle Seahawks and basketball team is the Los Angeles Clippers

  1. What drew you to law enforcement?

As a youth, I often found myself breaking up fights or mediating a volatile situation and I became known as “the Police.” I guess I’ve always liked helping people and making things right.

  1. What did you do before being elected to the office of sheriff?

I was the Director of Public Safety for Hampton University.

  1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

It would be the power to heal. I would rid the world of mental illness, sickness and disease.

  1. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?

I would love to visit Africa.

  1. What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of becoming the First African American to serve as President of the National Sheriffs’ Association and the first elected Sheriff and Constitutional Officer for the City of Hampton.

  1. What’s your favorite movie genre?

I like action movies.

  1. What character do you most admire in others? 

Honesty and Humility.


Sheriff B.J. Roberts Biography

B.J. Roberts attended the Thomas Nelson Regional Police Academy in 1972, and subsequently earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Hampton University in 1986. Sheriff Roberts completed the Northwestern University Public Safety Management School in Evanston, Illinois; the National Sheriffs’ Institute (NSI) program, conducted at the National Institute of Corrections Center at Longmont, Colorado, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute’s Chief Executive Training program; and the Civic Leadership Institute in 2004.

Sheriff Roberts was sworn in as the 69th president of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) in June, 2010. Sheriff Roberts’ swearing in as president of the NSA marks the first African-American in the 70 year history of the organization to preside over the 18,990 members. The NSA membership boasts over 3,000 Sheriffs in the United States.

Sheriff Roberts began his law enforcement career as a patrolman on the Newport News Police Force.  He then began his 19 year career with Hampton University’s Campus Police, where he moved through the ranks to become the Director of Police and Public Safety. In 1992, Sheriff Roberts was elected as Sheriff for the City of Hampton.

Sheriff Roberts has served and is currently on numerous boards.

  • The Board of Directors, Virginia Public Safety Alliance Board of Directors’ and Legislative Committee of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
  • Virginia Sheriff’s Association’s Past President and Vice President
  • Vice Chairman of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority
  • 1st Vice President of the National Sheriff’s Association
  • Jail, Detention and Corrections Committee and Governmental Affairs for the National Sheriffs’ Association
  • Board of Directors for National Commission on Correctional Health Care Accreditation and Education Committee, Policy and Standard Committee
  • Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care
  • Liaison Committee for the Department of Corrections
  • The Hampton-Newport News Community Criminal Justice Board
  • Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy Board
  • Board of Directors, Community Relations/Governmental Affairs Committee and the Nomination & Selection Committee for the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board

Sheriff Roberts is a member of the American Jail Association, the American Correctional Association, and a past president of the Virginia College Campus Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Association (VACLEA).

Equally important to Sheriff Roberts is his involvement and commitment to his community.  He is a member of the Wythe Exchange Club of America and a former board member of the Hampton Roads Chapter of Boys and Girls Clubs of American, Alternatives, Inc., Peninsula Foodbank, and Kenneth Wallace Neighborhood Resource Center. Sheriff Roberts is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Sheriff Roberts is a longtime member of Queen Street Baptist Church in Hampton and has spiritual roots that are deeply embedded from his childhood. He has received numerous honors and awards including: the City of Hampton’s Citizen of the Year, Role Model of the Year from the 100 Black Men Organization, Public Service Award of the Year from CHUMS, Inc., and has been elected to the Police Hall of Fame.


Getting to Know Your Virginia Sheriffs Archives

May – Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall
June – Northampton County Sheriff David Doughty
July – Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl S. Leonard
August – Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman
September – Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland
October – Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid
November – City of Richmond Sheriff Dr. Antionette Irving
December – City of Salem Sheriff April Staton