Detective Sgt. Brian Robertson has been with the Kingston Police Department for 22 years. He is a detective sergeant for the Special Investigation Unit — a department dedicated to investigating narcotics, homicide, prostitution, vice cases, gambling, human trafficking and more. Robertson is personable, playful, upbeat, fun and easy-going — and covered in tattoos — not your average “cop” by a long-shot!
Carrie Jones Ross: So, where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Brian Robertson: I am from Queens and grew up in Kingston and Woodstock area.
CJR: What do you do for fun, giggles and stress-relief?
BR: Jiu jitsu. I am a brown belt. I also teach a few nights a week there and defensive tactics at the police academy. I also fish, work a lot, hang out with my kids
CJR: Not a black-belt?
BR: I have to get my neck twisted a few more times, I guess.
CJR: What sign are you?
BR: Gemini/Cancer cusp.
CJR: What did you do after high school?
BR: I graduated from high school and went to college for about eight minutes, and then moved to Key West with a bunch of friends. I moved back and did construction.
CJR: How did you become a police officer?
BR: My father was a cop for about 32 years in New York Police Department and as much as I didn’t want to be a cop when I was younger, here I am. At 25 years old I took the test here and in New York City, I got this job here and kept it. … Chief James Riggins hired me. He was a good boss.
CJR: What is your background?
BR: I was hired as undercover. I have been working doing narcotics undercover majority of the time. I also work patrol and regular cases. I do get farmed out to various task forces.
CJR: What was your most hinkiest undercover assignment?
BR: When I was first hired, I went deep undercover for three months riding the back of a city garbage truck. No one knew I was a police officer, and I was even issued a paycheck every week. But I got to know people through it. I would go into bars and they all knew me from riding the garbage truck. I made a lot of contacts that way.
CJR: What are you seeing these days?
BR: We are seeing a fairly big influx of heroin and a lot of crack dealers who have switched over to heroin and crack, which I find very different. And interestingly enough, we have run into some Molly [MDMA] with the same dealers. We have run into dealers with both crack and Molly.
CJR: What level are the dealers and who are customers?
BR: Mid-level dealers. Customers are mixed: Street-level guys, they are not just supporting their habits. They are making money … you drug-test them, and more than half of them will come back negative.
CJR: How is it differing from 10 years ago? What has changed and why?
BR: Pills. They are definitely increasing over the past ten years, heroin users will use pills as well. We are talking Oxycontin, Vicodins, Epona, young kids playing around with Adderall.
CJR: What are high school kids using?
They are smoking a lot of weed. The weed today is crazy … It’s so strong. It’s being grown with hydroponics. We have seen stuff that’s $3,600 per pound. [High school kids are also doing a lot of] pills. They are not so much smoking crack. They are drinking too. Bu the pills … the pills are accessible at home.
CJR: Are there any trends you are seeing?
BR: Well, pills. Lots of them. Something that scares me is that there are these parties with pills in a bowl, and that scares me a LOT. Anything and everything are going in the bowl. I am amazed we have not had heavier or more overdoses. Also they do this thing called a “parachute” — small piece of paper with five or six pills. And they just swallow it. Whatever you get, you get. No one knows. Kids have gone into Mom’s medicine cabinet and just taken whatever was in there.
CJR: How old are these kids?
BR: Kids have been doing this since high school and just out of high school.
CJR: Are parents’ reactions changing? For better or worse?
BR: Case by case — some parents back the police, others will back the kids. There are some kids who grew up hating the police. They learned it from their families. I have busted the kids of some of the people who I busted in 1999, and that’s a sad, awful cycle. Sometimes the parents are instantly hateful when they walk in. There are young kids who have a violent nature to the police, and it’s a shame but it comes from the parents. But others are great. No one wants to put kids in prison.