Roger Roth was honored during the Monday City Council meeting where he was presented with a plaque and a few official goodbyes from the local police and city staff.
In his 17-year career with the Gig Harbor Police Department, chaplain Roger Roth was able to stay strong while facing some of the worst situations the community has seen. But saying goodbye to his beloved police force almost brought him to tears.
“To actually say goodbye almost broke me,” Roth said. “I didn’t want to leave.”
Roth was honored during the Monday city council meeting where he was presented with a plaque and a few official goodbyes from the local police and city staff.
“There are some mixed emotions tonight,” Police Chief Kelly Busey said during the meeting. “He does some amazing things for us. He would ride with officers and helped with some very hard times. He’s earned every one of his stripes.”
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Roth started as a volunteer chaplain with the Gig Harbor Police Department in 2000, while working full time as a field director and mortician. He was not the first chaplain in Gig Harbor — but he was the first positive contact many residents made during times of crisis.
Roth was part of the team that helped support local policing during extreme situations, including when Tacoma police chief David Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and then himself, in 2003 and when four Lakewood police officers were killed in a coffee shop in 2009.
Roth has taken a paid position as a chaplain with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. He said the only reason he chose to transfer was because the sheriff had the means to pay Roth, meaning he could be a chaplain full time.
His first day on the job ended up being possibly one of the most memorable nights of his career.
“I remember staying up the night before until midnight,” Roth said. “I was thinking ‘I need to go to bed’ because the next day I was supposed to go to headquarters and meet everyone. But, then at 12:01 (a.m.), I got a call that an officer was down.”
Roth was called to respond to the shooting of Pierce County deputy Daniel McCartney, who was fatally shot by two fleeing suspects during a burglary call late in the evening on Jan. 14.
Roth said he is used to handling especially precarious and upsetting scenes. His job as a chaplain includes notifying families of death, responding to crime scenes to help escort family and friends of victims, provide guidance and counseling to residents and officers, and diffuse situations.