Hartford Police Detective Robert 'Bobby' Garten honored at services over the weekend
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.”
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.”
This story has been updated. Connecticut Public's Maricarmen Cajahuaringa, Tyler Russell, Patrick Skahill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.