Fleet feet win detective honors

In the seven years he’s been with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Detective Anthony Robert has had to run down younger men fleeing from justice.

Literally.

“He chased after two who ran out the courthouse” and caught them, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.

The two were fugitives briefly, young men who seemingly were fitter and faster than Robert.

They chose the wrong sheriff’s detective to flee from.

“I had to chase one of them a mile,” Robert said Friday, recalling the 2007 pursuit.

“He called ‘old man’ when he was running,” Robert said.

He eventually caught the young man, Robert said; the escapee was handicapped by having to hold up his pants, which kept falling.

“He didn’t have no belt on,” Robert said.

There aren’t many who can outrun Detective Robert.

He is a two-time world champion in the 110-meter hurdles at the World Police and Fire Games, a biennial Olympics-style international competition held for men and women who wear a badge.

Robert also has competed nationally against U.S. police and firefighters.

At the 2013 world competition, held in Belfast, Ireland, in early August, Robert placed third in the 100-meter low hurdles.

“It was a three-way photo finish at the line” in Belfast, he said, “and I ran my personal best time of 18.72 seconds.”

Robert also was a member of the U.S. 4x400-meter and 4x100-meter relay teams, claiming medals in each, sheriff’s spokeswoman Megan Vizena said.

In his years running track and field events competitively, Robert has racked up three world titles, six U.S. titles, 11 in statewide Louisiana competitions, 11 in the regional U.S. events and numerous other championships, Vizena said.

“I was honored to hold the American flag over my head on the award platform,” Robert said.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Plaisance in St. Landry Parish, Robert was a kid who could run. He went to Plaisance High School and competed in track. The hook was set, Robert said; he’s never stopped competing in track.

Robert later earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Southern University and went into law enforcement, where being swift of foot has come in handy.

On a more recent chase, Robert had to chase a man who thought an upcoming fence was no obstacle.

“He thought he could hurdle it,” Robert said. “He hit the fence and came back down.”

At 51, Roberts is hanging up his competitive cleats.

“The dreaded hypertension,” he said, explaining doctors are trying to regulate his blood pressure.

“I have run a good race and completed my duties,” he said. “My faith is strong and God has blessed me. … God has given me 25 years as a deputy sheriff.”

Robert is single and has no surviving children, but there are plenty of other family around. He said retirement is in sight and he can’t wait to become tractor-riding farmer Anthony Robert.