A New Chief In Town
Sam Rogers Takes Over As Jeffersontown’s Chief of Police
Writer / Tyrel Kessinger
It’s always good to know that the sheriff of your local police department is doing his best to keep people safe. It’s even better when the sheriff is a native of the area. But truth be told, Jeffersontown’s newest Chief, Sam Rogers, is actually an out-of-towner.
“I lived literally feet outside the city limits,” Rogers says with a hearty laugh. “But I will always consider myself a J-Town person born and bred though.”
Rogers was appointed Chief of Police in February by the Mayor Dieruf in what is the culmination of a lifelong career in civil service. He wasn’t always a police officer but he did always know, unlike many of us, even from an early age, that civil service was his calling.
“I had a buddy in high school that actually joined the Jeffersontown Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter,” Rogers says. “He started telling me stories about being involved with that and that perked my interest so I ended up joining the fire department when I was a senior in high school. That took me on a nearly 15-year career with the fire department, which was mostly as a volunteer but I also did about 2.5 years of paid service.”
His time with the fire department afforded Rogers plenty of time on the ground and upfront action.
“I saw a lot of need that people had in times of emergencies and disaster scenes and things of that nature,” he says.
Rogers’ commitment to helping, serving and protecting people only grew and, as a result, he began to look for other opportunities to expand his capabilities in doing so. He became an EMT with the fire department which then led to a job as a paramedic EMS provider.
The jump to police work was right on the horizon.
Through his time as an EMS provider, “I got to work hand in hand with a lot of the police officers that worked with the old Jefferson County Police,” he says.
Rogers, who already admired and respected their unique position within the community, began feeling the pull to becoming a police officer.
“And obviously growing up here in Jeffersontown, with it being a smaller community, smaller police force, I knew a lot of the officers,” Rogers says. “At my church as well, when I was growing up there was a couple police officers and close family friends that helped guide me down the civil service pathway. Maybe not overtly, but they certainly had an influence on me.”
Although he initially tested for the Jeffersontown Police Department in 1995, “at that time there were few hirings of brand new police officers,” Rogers explains. “Traditionally, they only hired experience officers. And, also, there wasn’t a lot of turnovers back then.”
But a few years later, in 2000, another opportunity to test arose and, by early 2001, he was sworn in as an official police officer for the Jeffersontown force.
“Then chief then was gracious enough to call and extend me an offer,” Rogers says. “Obviously, I jumped on it as quick as I could.”
As with any job, there are dues to pay if you want to move up the ranks, and Rogers has certainly paid his in full. Especially so, considering the inherent and possible danger with being a police officer. Rogers served his first eight years on the graveyard patrol force before his first promotion in 2007.
“Back then we still had a rank of corporal, which was kind of a supervisor position between an officer and sergeant, what I was then promoted to,” he says.
From there, Rogers was on a role, climbing the ladder a little higher each year.
“Then I was promoted to sergeant in 2008,” he says. “But I stayed on patrol the whole time. Then I ended up taking a position as a sergeant detective in our criminal investigations division, our CID. I was there for about four years as a sergeant and then that’s when the mayor appointed me as a Major, an Administrative Commander for the department in 2013. With the retirement of Chief Hatmaker earlier this year, I put my name in the hat for consideration as appointment for the new Chief of Police. Mayor Durham saw fit to do so in February.”
Chief Rogers has been fortunate in that what he inherited from Hatmaker, and others before him, is a well-oiled police department machine. Thus far, it’s all been smooth sailing. Rogers says he’s experienced absolutely zero issues at the helm of his new position. All of which translates to a better working environment for the department and better service for the community.
“I’ve told everyone since I’ve been appointed as chief, that fortunately, my predecessors hadn’t broken anything,” Rogers says. “I don’t have to build anything from the ground up, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. There weren’t any hiccups with the transition and I already knew the culture of the organization and the people that worked for it. Since I was already in a management position so all of my employees know what I’m about and how I work and what I’m going to expect of them.”
Though that’s not to say he doesn’t have some plans for the future.
“Staffing is always a paramount consideration,” Rogers says. “I hope to work with the mayor and the city council to increase my staffing here at the department. Since I have taken the office, we have hired one seasonal, supplemental officer who works for nine consecutive months and then is off for three months. We’re busier across the boards statistically speaking and I don’t see that ever reversing and going back the other direction. I think we’re going to continue to have needs placed upon us and get busier and busier.”
And while Rogers says that the department has “always prided itself on providing the most up-to-date, professional policing that we can,” he aims to introduce a new (and vitally necessary today, some would say) element within the Jeffersontown department.
“One thing is the possibility of bringing on a police social worker, but we’re only in the early stages of talking about that,” he says. “It may not fit in the role of a traditional police force role, but society’s demanding more of us from a social expectation standpoint. And we’re going to continue to meet that. It makes our community safer for everyone that lives and works here.”
Still, Rogers will have his work cut out for him. It takes a particular type of person to successfully run an organization, and the Jeffersontown Police Department is more than just your average organization. But if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s definitely Rogers. His career has been nothing if not a testament to his lifelong commitment to public’s service.
“I’m kind of the epitome of police recruits that come in and start from the ground up and then work their way from the bottom to the top,” he says. “I will always take pride in the fact that my entire policing career has been dedicated to this department and this community.”