At look at pulaski police chief gary roche the southwest times west la college online courses

Unlike many young people who aren’t sure of what career to choose, pulaski police chief gary roche never had any doubts. “I made the decision to go into law enforcement when I was 16 years old, when I became an auxiliary officer in the bridgeport police department.”

Chief roche, who was raised in the tiny town of bridgeport, virginia, attended virginia commonwealth university where he studied administration of justice and public safety.

Roche relates an event that happened to him early on in his career. “I was in the ride along program with the richmond police department when I saw the officer I was riding with get shot.” neither roche nor the wounded officer were deterred from continuing their police duties.

“I rode with that same officer again, five months later, when he got back to work,” roche said.Police chief

Roche graduated in 1976 and soon attained employment in the harrisonburg police department. Two years later he was offered a job at the roanoke sheriff’s department, which would give him a 25 percent increase in pay. Roche readily agreed to go to the star city where he remained for more than two decades.

While working as a roanoke county sheriff’s deputy, roche attained the rank of sergeant and became commander of the unit’s SWAT team. In 1990, roche joined the newly formed roanoke police department, where he worked his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming acting commander of the uniform division.

In 2001, gary roche became chief gary roche of the pulaski police department. When asked what a police chief does, roche responded, “everything,” then added, “one of the main things that you have to do is find the right people and provide them with resources and training to develop a team atmosphere.”

chief roche

Chief roche’s police department consists of 29 full time officers, including himself. He believes this size force is appropriate for the town of pulaski.

Roche explained, “you can’t judge the size of the force solely by population. It’s about demographics, annual income per capita, how many assisted housing developments you have. We have a 40 percent rental rate in a non-college town. The optimum, as far as crime, is a 10 percent rental rate. Our per officer call for service rate is higher than anywhere else in the new river valley or roanoke. So, when you say 29 looks like a big number for a community of 9000, that may look like a lot but when you factor in these other variables, you see that it’s necessary.”

“as is true everywhere, there is a problem with drug abuse, which drives other crime.Police chief our problem with oxycodone goes all the way back to 2001. When I talked to other chiefs in northern virginia about methamphetamine, it’s not a problem there. Here, in southwest virginia, it’s a big problem.” then roche added, “our people see the full gambit of everything.”

The pulaski police department is currently five short of having 29 full time officers. Two are in training and will join the force in the near future but that leaves three officers that still need to be hired to reach what chief roche considers full capacity, and that’s not easy.

“we’re having a terrible time trying to find people to go into this profession. I mean it is a struggle everywhere. It’s not only finding people who want to do it, it’s finding the right people who want to do it. That’s the problem.Right people you can get people to apply, but they don’t meet our standards and so we can’t accept them into the business,” said roche.

Chief roche continued, “we just ran a process. We had 36 applications. Twenty-three showed up for the test. Eleven passed the written test. Eight of those passed the physical agility test. My point is, you’ve got to get the right people to apply who have the skills and ethics to do the job. We don’t need anyone who will cause any embarrassment to the people they work with or the community.”

For example, a young man who recently finished his interview for one of the open positions was found to be less than honest about his background, which doomed his chances at becoming a police officer.

“if you’re going to lie before I hire you, you’re going to lie after I hire you,” said chief roche.Right people he added, “might as well not lie to us, we’ll find out the truth eventually. It’s what we do.”

Roches continued, “there’s a plaque at the end of the hallway. Every new recruit that comes through here, I take them down to that plaque and I tell them if you’re not willing to abide by that oath of honor, you’re wasting your time and my time.”

Pay and quality of life are also factors in hiring new police officers. A newly hired officer in pulaski makes $35,000 a year compared with $42,500 for a new hire in christiansburg. Police departments in radford, blacksburg and the pulaski county sheriff’s department also offer better pay.

Still, chief roche seems well pleased with the officers he does have. “the best part of this job is the people I have here. They are an absolute fantastic bunch.Right people they could go other places and make more money. They see things that officers in other jurisdictions may see occasionally. Here, they see it regularly. That’s just a fact.”

The chief also emphasized that the pulaski police department has an excellent rate of solving or clearing cases relative to other departments.

Clearly, the chief enjoys his work but he may have done a few things differently. “I would have changed a few things, like not being on the SWAT team for 19 years. My daughter once said that for her entire life, the phone would ring and I would grab that bag and go out the door. I never appreciated the fact about how much that impacted the most important people in my life. Part of the problem with this job is that it can consume you. You try to maintain a balance.”

chief roche

When asked why he decided to go into law enforcement all those years ago, roche responded, “I didn’t go into it for the money when I started. I went into it for the field work, helping people and putting bad guys off the street.”

He also mentioned a bible verse from romans. “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities…for rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but only for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”