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Former Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins, 66 [UPDATE]

Town's former top cop came from law enforcement family.

Updated 12:30 a.m.:

The funeral for longtime Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins, who passed away in his sleep March 5, has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m., March 10 at St. Mary's Church in Greenwich.

Monsignor Frank Wissel, who is a GPD chaplain, will officiate at the service which will include full department and military honors, according to Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey. The wake for the 66-year-old Robbins is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. March 9 at Knapp & Son Funeral Home, 267 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich.

Robbins was remembered by friends and colleagues as a dedicated police officer who followed his family's career path. Robbins followed his father David's footsteps to become a member of the only father-son pair of chiefs in the department's history. He also had two uncles who were Greenwich Police officers including William, who was one of 3 Greenwich officers killed in the line of duty.

"Many have said he was a cop's cop. He was a chief's chief," Heavey said.

Greenwich Hospital Chief Executive Officer Frank Corvino remembered Robbins as being "extremely well respected. He had the respect of the town, he had the respect of the management team, of the hospital, the respect of the doctors. He was a really good man." After retiring as police chief in December 2002, Robbins served as the hospital's security director for about 6 years. He and his wife Eileen relocated to Delaware where Robbins was chief of the uniformed court officers for the state judicial system.

Original story:

Former Chief Peter Robbins died in his sleep at his Delaware home on Monday. He was 66.

Robbins was remembered as "a cop's cop" who was as passionate about law enforcement as he was about his hometown of Greenwich.

"He was a cop's cop. No doubt he loved our community and he loved the Greenwich Police Department," said retired Lt. Thomas Keegan. "So much of his energy was spent as a police officer and then as police chief."

Robbins, the son of the former Greenwich Police Chief David Robbins, joined the force July 6, 1970, retired Dec. 1, 2002. The two Robbins are the only father and son to serve as the department's chief, according to Keegan. After retiring in 2002, Robbins became security chief at before relocating to Delaware he was chief of that state's court officers at the time of his death Monday.

"He was a strong chief who strongly advocated for the public safety needs of his community and that had a positive impact on the department," said Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray. Robbins was instrumental in forming several special units during his tenure as chief including the Special Response Unit and the Honor Guard.

"He was always about the best equipment and the best training," Gray added.

First Selectman Peter Tesei said Robbins "was very much about preparedness and equipment." Robbins was instrumental in the modernization of the department's marine unit with the purchase of a jet-engine powered patrol boat, as well as the radio communication system, and establishing a replacement policy for patrol cars, Tesei said.

"I am very saddened and shocked to hear of his passing. He presided over the department during an extremely challenging time and restored confidence in the department," Tesei said. "He was an extremely proud police department leader who followed in his father's footsteps."

Tesei, along with Keegan and Gray, said Robbins' passion for police work was very evident to officers on the street.

"Peter Robbins, it appears that he couldn't sleep and when it came to protecting our town, he'd be out there. He was out there all the time," Keegan said. Gray said he remembers "one night at 2 in the morning, I'm on patrol and he rolls up as my backup." Tesei added, "He would get out there and direct traffic. ... He lived and breathed police work."

Robbins measured demeanor was a respite in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There were 28 people either from Greenwich or with ties to town who perished in the attacks. "During 911, he was a reassuring presence in the community," Tesei said.

According to a department statement, Robbins graduated from Saint Mary High School and Iona College with a degree in criminal justice. He served in the United States Army as a Military Policeman. Chief Robbins was a Vietnam Veteran. He joined the Greenwich Police Department in July of 1970 and rose through the ranks to become the Chief of Police in 1997.

Robbins is the in recent months. On May 21, 2011, at Yale-New Haven Hospital following complications from heart surgery.

"It's shocking. Sixty-six years old is young. On behalf of the town of Greenwich, we send our condolences to his wife Eileen, daughter Colleen and son Tim," Tesei said. "There will be a large outpouring of support from the community for his family."

A full department funeral will be conducted at St. Mary‘s Church on Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, on Friday.

This story has been updated to include more information about Chief Robbins' career and work in the department.

Greenwich Patch will update this story with funeral arrangements as they become available.

Bond007 March 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I am so shocked hearing this. Peter will be sorely missed. He was such a wonderful caring person. God bless his family
Dennis Sclafani March 06, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Peter was a great man,i worked with him at GREENWICH Hospital. He will be missed. GOD BLESS
Jack Vogt March 07, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Peter will be missed very much. I live across the street from Peter and Eileen in lewes, DE. He was a wonderful friend and neighbor. We miss him. Jack and Pat Vogt
Ginger Hart March 07, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Peter was a great person and will be missed very much. I am a co-worker of Pete's (JP Court #3), State of Delaware. He always had a smile and kind words for all. I was truly shocked to hear this news. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family. Ginger Hart

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