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Hartford Police Detective Robert 'Bobby' Garten honored at services over the weekend

Under a billboard announcing his "End of Watch," attendees enter Dunkin' Park for the wake of Hartford detective Robert 'Bobby' Garten, September 15, 2023.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Under a billboard announcing his "End of Watch," attendees enter Dunkin' Park for the wake of Hartford detective Robert 'Bobby' Garten, Sept. 15, 2023.

At Hartford’s XL Center Saturday, hundreds of police personnel and loved ones gathered for a final goodbye before Detective Robert Garten's burial.

His casket, draped in an American flag, was carried into the arena by an honor guard. It rested next to a floral display arranged into the Hartford Whalers logo, in a nod to what his family said was Garten’s favorite sports franchise.

Garten, 34, was killed when his police cruiser was struck by another vehicle that police say was fleeing an unrelated traffic stop last week near downtown Hartford. The driver faces several charges, including interfering with an officer, and is set to appear in court at the end of the month.

Garten was a second-generation Hartford police officer, who followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a detective.

Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said the department would honor Garten in a number of ways. His locker door will be replaced with a glass pane, his uniform hanging in plain sight. His unit number will be retired. And a boat in the department’s marine division will be renamed “Bobby’s Way,” with Garten’s face engraved on a commemorative plaque onboard.

“He will be forever at the helm steering the ship,” Thody said Saturday.

“We love you and we miss you,” Thody said, addressing the casket and growing emotional. “Please watch over your fellow officers as they take up your post, cover your beat and continue your noble work in your honor. Until we meet again.”

Wake held for Detective Robert "Bobby" Garten of the Hartford Police Department. He was killed in a crash while on duty the previous week.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Signs made by Capital Prep students hang near the wake Detective Robert "Bobby" Garten.

Hundreds gathered on Friday for Garten's wake at Dunkin' Park in Hartford. During the wake, Marichal Monts, chaplain for the Hartford Police Department, said police officers are often known for their strength, but they're suffering from the loss.

“It's been difficult but they've come through, and we have a really great police department here in Hartford, Connecticut," Monts said. "So not only have the chaplains been supporting them, but they support each other.”

Gov. Ned Lamont spoke earlier in the week about Garten.

"Don't take your ... men and women in blue for granted — every day," Lamont said. "They put their lives at risk and Officer Garten and his sudden death reminds you of that.”

At Saturday's funeral, Officer Brian Kearney accompanied the procession. He was in the police cruiser with Garten at the time of the crash. Kearney used a wheelchair due to his injuries.

Kearney rose from his wheelchair and took the stage using a walker to give remarks through tears and offer his own departmental Medal of Valor to Garten posthumously.

“Bob was my partner, and he was a hero to the Hartford Police Department,” Kearney said.

“I love you, Bob, and I will see you again. Unit 133 is signing off.”

Wake held for Detective Robert "Bobby" Garten of the Hartford Police Department. He was killed in a crash while on duty the previous week.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
A boat from HPD's Marine division is cloaked outside Dunkin' Park. Garten and another officer rescued three people from the Connecticut River on Garten's final marine division shift, Aug. 19, 2023.

This story has been updated. Connecticut Public's Maricarmen Cajahuaringa, Tyler Russell, Patrick Skahill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated: September 16, 2023 at 2:40 PM EDT
This story has been updated
Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.
Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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