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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Police Chief Mike Rogers announces retirement
He will stay on until July 31
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MIke Rogers

Friday, May 31, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

After nearly 14 years, Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers said Thursday he will retire effective July 31.

“I am so excited. I can’t put into words how much I’m looking forward to retirement,” Rogers said.

He broke the news to his officers on Wednesday, and said he decided to work through July because many officers have vacations planned.

“If I left sooner, I felt it would put them in a bad position,” said Rogers, 54.

Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said the position will be filled according to the standard protocol, which includes reviewing the position and its duties and advertising the opening on the local, regional and state level “using some of the sources we have and various publications that we participate in.”

The pay scale for the position is $72,331 to $108,497, according to Kathy Vernon, human resource specialist for the city.

Towarnicki said he does not think the advertising process will be lengthy, but it also will not be the typical one to two weeks. “I would anticipate we would probably advertise for a month,” he said.

A review/interview process then will be used to narrow down the field and eventually name a new chief, Towarnicki said.

Rogers is the son of retired Henry County sheriff James Rogers, so law enforcement was a large part of his life. Due to his father’s influence, Rogers said he aspired early on to join the Virginia State Police, so much so that he was called “Trooper” rather than his name while in school.

But after he went to work at the Martinsville Police Department on Feb. 2, 1980, he enjoyed it so much and felt so at home that he stayed.

He was hired as a uniform police officer, and then worked in criminal investigations until 1989 when he was assigned to work vice and narcotics. He was named sergeant of criminal investigations in 1992, and then was named sergeant of community policing and street crimes in 1994.

Rogers became assistant police chief in August 1999, and in October of that year, he was named to the top slot.

“My career path kind of followed my dad’s. He worked his way up through the ranks, and I worked my way up,” Rogers said.

Just as the elder Rogers influenced his son’s career, Mike Rogers said his father’s retirement had an impact on his decision to step down.

“Seeing how much my dad has enjoyed his retirement is another factor,” said the chief, who added that he has thought about retiring for many years, and could have done so when he turned 50.

As he prepares to step down, Rogers said he is “very proud of the reputation of the Martinsville Police Department. It’s had a good reputation since I came here to work in 1980,” as evidenced by “compliments I get from judges, lawyers, probation officers and a lot of our citizens concerning the job our officers do. That really makes you feel good about your department,” he said.

It also is an accomplishment that took teamwork, and “I am certainly thankful for the employees, both past and present. They’ve done a lot to help build up our reputation and serve our citizens. I have been blessed not only to work in a good department, but also in a good community,” he said.

“Our relationship with the citizens we serve, I can’t imagine it being any better,” Rogers said. “We don’t have the racial tensions that some departments have with their citizens.”

He credited “crime prevention and community-oriented policing efforts over the years” as being instrumental in helping “us build a strong partnership and create a great working relationship with our residents, and I think that has played a big part in getting our crime rates as low as we have,” Rogers said.

“That partnership with the citizens is a huge asset for law enforcement, and it starts with young people. If you can develop those friendships at an early age, later in life it may help youngsters make better decisions and support law enforcement,” he added.

Rogers said he also is pleased with the way he has interacted with those on the wrong side of the law.

“Most are good people that made bad decisions, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated,” he said, and added that he has become friends with several people he arrested.

The biggest drawbacks to the job are concern for officers’ safety and budget cuts, Rogers said.

“There’s a lot of stress in the job, and one of the biggest concerns — the one that has caused me the most stress — is worrying about the safety of our officers,” he said.

“I will be so thankful if I am able to end my career without one of my officers getting hurt,” he added. “You always worry about them just like you would close family members. ... I will still pray for them, but if one of them gets hurt, I hope and pray it won’t be under my watch.”

“Another thing that has really made it tough over the last few years, since about 2010, are the personnel cuts with our budget,” Rogers said.

Although he declined to provide details, Rogers said he is “looking at several job opportunities” and plans to still work full time once he retires.

“I’ll probably start a new job in August,” he said. “But I’ll make a final decision later on” as to which opportunity he accepts.


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