Retiring Police Chief Craig Rogers told a crowd of well-wishers last week that he’s never been sorry he picked a profession in law enforcement.
“When I started out, I was like every other cop,” he said. “I wanted to serve the community. I knew the benefits and the working conditions weren’t that great. I knew I’d be working nights and weekends and probably not be home with my family on the holidays. That didn’t matter. I was just excited to be a cop.”
More than 100 people gathered last Thursday to say thank you to Rogers who officially retired Feb. 9. Rogers spent 37 years with the Bremerton Police Department. Friends and family, other law enforcement officers and past and present city officials listened as he spoke about his career.
“I’ve been going through everything in my office the past couple of weeks,” he said. “All the newspaper clippings, the cards and letters and the pictures. All of the history just comes pouring back to you.”
Rogers began his career as a patrol officer on Feb. 9, 1976. His promotion to sergeant came in 1983. In 1990 he was named captain of the operation division and after being acting chief for three months in 2005, he was named to the position Jan. 1, 2006.
According to Mayor Patty Lent, the chief wanted to end his career on Feb. 9 because many of the important dates in his career were on Feb. 9.
“It’s a very important date in his life,” she said. “We’re very proud of the legacy he is leaving and he has served us well.”
Mayor Lent pointed out that Rogers created a coin with the phrase “Pride” on it. Coins were handed out at the retirement celebration.
“It stands for professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence,” she said. “These are the things he instilled during his time on the force, not just in his years as chief, but throughout his career.”
Working with other professionals had made the years great, Rogers said.
“Everyone from the Kitsap County Sheriffs, to the police departments in the area, to the mayors and the city councils, to our own officers and support personnel, they have all made this job great,” he said. “Our law enforcement partners throughout Kitsap County have just been wonderful.”
For Rogers, police work has been an opportunity to serve and be an advocate for victims “who can no longer fight for themselves.”
He complimented all the officers he had worked with and who worked under him.
“Our shield and our patch are tangible items designed to institute pride,” he said. “But who we are is defined by the people who wear the shield. All of our accomplishments happened because we were a team.”
Rogers also thanked his family, especially his wife, Cathy.
“From the very day I put on the shield, she never complained,” he said. “She supported me, through varying shifts, lousy days off, injuries and even death threats. She realized just as I do that being a police officer is not a job. It’s a calling.”
Rogers said he’s often been asked about his plans now that he is retiring. Showing his sense of humor, he answered.
“People ask ‘What are you going to do?’ he said. “I’m gonna do whatever I want to do. I’m handing over the worries to others.’
But, he said, “I do, and I always will, worry about my officers.”
He termed his future as a chapter of “reinvention.”
“I want to grow as a person, spend time with my family and enrich my body, mind and soul,” he said. “I look back and wonder where all the time has gone. And I see my wife with tears in her eyes, and I’m not sure if those are tears of happiness, or tears of terror that I’ll be home all the time. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know.”
At the retirement ceremony, Rogers was honored by his own department, Mayor Lent, former Mayor Cary Bozeman, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer, and representatives of the FBI and NCIS.