Sault Ste. Marie Police chief Hugh Stevenson says the loss of one of his department’s officers earlier this week in an off-duty motorcycle collision is like losing a family member.
Cst. Orrette Robinson died Tuesday after a collision at the corner of Lyons Avenue and Farwell Terrace on Tuesday evening. He was 36 years old.
“He was a vibrant young man,” said Stevenson, at an emotional press conference on Thursday. “He was happy, he had an incredible joy for life that was infectious. He had a smile that you would never forget.”
“It’s the shock,” added Stevenson. “It would be no different than your own family member out of the blue passing away from an accident.”
Stevenson had to pause at various points during the press conference, held at the Police Services Building in the Don Doucet Classroom.
Robinson was hired as a special constable in 2020, responsible for tasks such as court security, prisoner transfers, among other duties. He was hired as a full constable in August 2021.
He attended Ontario Police College, where he was valedictorian of his class — the first time a member of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service had the honour of that role.
“It was very obvious from the first day we met that he was meant to be in law enforcement,” said Stevenson. “He was exactly what we in policing want to show the community — that this is the type of individual that we hire. People persons, people that care about other people."
Robinson immigrated to Canada in 2015 from his native Jamaica, where he served nine years as a police officer. He was very involved with the African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario (ACCANO) locally, and spent much of his free time, and time as an officer, working with local youth.
“He would stop his cruiser, get out and have a chat with these young kids,” said Stevenson. “They would look up at him and say: ‘See? I can be you some day.’ He had that infectious feel about him. He was very good with people — he was warm, he was accepting and it’s a real loss.”
The department shared photographs of Robinson, including one of him dancing in full dress uniform at an ACCANO gala.
“He was a wonderful role model in both the Jamaican community, ACCANO and our own community of Sault Ste. Marie,” added Stevenson.
Robinson has family locally, in Wawa and in Jamaica, said Stevenson.
Sault Police spokesperson Lincoln Louttit said Robinson recently shared photographs of himself playing basketball in full uniform with youth in Jamestown and on Monday he and other officers on dynamic patrol played baseball with local youth.
“He obviously understood the value of interacting with youth in the community,” said Louttit.
The department will offer a special "Compliment a Member" feature on its Facebook page starting tomorrow, asking people to share their memories and interactions with Robinson.
“We are going to do a specific one for Orrette and share some of that stuff with his family,” said Louttit. “It’s been a heavy couple of days, hearing some of those good stories would be good.”
In the wake of Robinson’s death, Stevenson said the department is doing all it can to support the officer’s family.
“We are in the process right now of working with the family to consider a celebration of life potentially here and one also in his home country of Jamaica,” said Stevenson.
Flags at the Police Services Building will remain at half staff until after Robinson’s funeral, which will include an honour guard from fellow Sault Ste. Marie Police Service members.
“We will give him every respect due to a member of this service and it will make his family proud,” said Stevenson.