Chief says police work was a family affair

November 25, 1996


Staff Writer, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - William Roper said for as long as he can remember, he was intrigued by police work.

As a youngster growing up in Baltimore, Roper used to tag along with his stepfather, who was an officer at the Baltimore City Police Department, to department softball games and other functions.

"I just got very interested in listening to them talk," said Roper.

Ironically, it was his stepfather, Jerry Rouss, that gave Roper his first job in police work.

After Roper returned from a four-year stint in the Navy, his father hired him as a patrolman for the Ranson Police Department. While Roper was away, his father took a job as police chief for the department after retiring from the Baltimore force.

Today, it's Roper who is commanding the top spot at the eight-man department.

Roper was recently named the town's police chief, replacing Everett Boober, who left to take a job with the Norm Thompson Outfitters plant in Bardane.


Since coming to Ranson 18 years ago, Roper has seen a lot of changes in law enforcement. The field has had to endure considerable negative publicity while at the same time battling growing narcotics use and domestic violence cases, Roper said.

Roper said everyone makes mistakes, but the public seems to be "seeking faults" in police officers more than recongnizing their strengths."It seems like it just continues to go on and on," said Roper, adding that the trend started with high-profile cases like Rodney King and O.J. Simpson.

To help reverse the problem, Roper said police departments will have to be more selective about who they hire and conduct more extensive background checks on potential candidates.

For his own department, Roper said he has nothing but respect. Roper said he has always had the upmost confidence for the department's officers, and he has always found them to be respectful toward town residents.

"These guys excel. They really do," said Roper.

Roper said citizens can expect to see the department follow basically the same direction it did under Boober, including a a strong emphasis on anti-drug programs in public schools.

Ranson is the only department in the county to use the D.A.R.E. program, a federally funded initiative that involves sending police officers into classrooms to teach kids the downside of drug use.

Roper said he believes drug use will decline as current drug users age. In the meantime, D.A.R.E. and similar programs are sending the right message to kids about drug use before they are pressured to try it in their peer groups.

"Our generation ruined it. Their generation will fix it," Roper said.

The Herald-Mail Articles