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Father and son deputies reflect on the bond of family, partners
Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts, right, followed in his father, James, footsteps and became a sheriff’s deputy. “I actually counted down the days until I was 21, which is the age limit to be a cop,” Sam said. - photo by Alexander Popp

This article appears in the June issue of  400 Life.

Even as a young kid living with his family in Oklahoma, Forsyth County Deputy Sam Roberts knew that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer, just like his dad.

“Ever since I was a kid, I would ride out with him,” Roberts said. “I was probably 13 and I would start riding out on Friday nights, hanging out with the cops and I just learned to like it. Seeing the good days and the bad days, and just fell in love with what they do.”

At first Roberts just loved the lights, sirens and being with different officers while they chased and stopped people, but as he got older and joined different law enforcement Explorer groups, he said he began to learn what cops really do and understand how much of a difference law enforcement officers made in people’s lives. 

“I’d say since I was about 12 years old I pretty much knew I was going to do this,” he said. “I actually counted down the days until I was 21, which is the age limit to be a cop.”

So after their family moved to Georgia in 2013 and Sam’s dad, James Roberts, got a job with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, it came as a surprise to no one that Sam followed along as soon as he possibly could. 

“We knew the day was going to come when we were going to work together,” said sheriff’s office deputy James Roberts. “As we were riding around doing ride-alongs, we always said that someday he’d be in the uniform too and we’d be working together. That day has finally come and it’s awesome.” 

Sam Roberts first began working at the Hall County Jail when he turned 18 and after he turned 21 in 2019, he was sworn in as a deputy with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. 

“I feel like I was almost built to do this. I don’t think I would ever do anything else,” Roberts said. 

Today both James and Sam Roberts work day shift for the sheriff’s office’s patrol division on different sides of the county with James at the North precinct and Sam at the South. 

On days off, the two deputies unwind together riding motorcycles and cooking out on the grill.

Even though the two men rarely interact while they are working, both say that having such an intimate bond with a fellow officer is invaluable for dealing with and processing the daily stresses of being a law enforcement officer.  

Since his dad is a more experienced officer, Sam Roberts said he’s always been able to go to him for help and advice.

“We’ve always talked at home about what goes on throughout his shift and my shift and things like that,” he said. “I know if I’m ever in trouble, I have someone to call to and I know what he’s going through. Like on a bad day, I’m probably the closest person who’s going to understand what actually a bad day means.” 

In the rare instance that the two deputies are on scene together, you would hardly even know they were related, as they work hard to keep their interactions professional. 

“You probably wouldn’t know we are father and son until you see our nametags,” Sam Roberts said. “I don’t walk up and call him dad or anything like that; it’s a real professional relationship while we are at work, because we still have a job to do here.” 

Regardless of appearances, both deputies say that ultimately their bond has deepened considerably by working together, changing from a father and son dynamic, to a brother and partner one. 

“It’s a different bond with him, knowing that he’s out there doing the same thing we both understand,” James Roberts said. 

James said that sometimes it’s hard to put aside the fear that any father would feel for his son, but at the end of the day they are both trained and know how to do their jobs well. 

“I know firsthand that he’s trained and he’s been around it a long time,” he said. “He knows how to do the job. He does it well. But part of me hears his voice and you know, he’s my son.”

James Roberts
James and Sam, right, work for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, one in the north part of the county and one in the south. - photo by For the Forsyth County News