Retired law enforcers haven't quit working

January 14, 2002

Retired law enforcers haven't quit working

Washington County


After 26 years in law enforcement, Hagerstown City Police Sgt. Roger Powers was ready to hand in his shield but not ready to retire.

"I was only 53 and I still wanted to keep busy," said Powers, now 56.

Like many city, county and state police officers, Powers started his law enforcement career in his 20s, and after putting in more than 20 years, found himself ready to start a new career.

In the first year of his so-called retirement, Powers stuck with law enforcement. He went to work for the Washington County Sheriff's Department as a security guard at the Washington County Courthouse.


Looking for more flexibility in his schedule, Powers left the courthouse and got behind the wheel.

Since 1999, Powers has been an instructor with Widmyer Driving School in Hagerstown.

"I used to give tickets, now I try to prevent them," Powers said.

Charles F. Mades joined the Maryland State Police in the 1960s because he was tired of working construction jobs, he said.

After a 25-year career, the Hagerstown native said he found himself retired at age 46, with few options if he was going to stay in law enforcement.

On the advice of former Washington County Sheriff Glen Bowman, Mades, 61, said he decided to run for sheriff. First elected in 1986, he filed last week for re-election to his fifth term in office.

"I knew I had to get a job," Mades said. "What else was I going to do after 25 years working for the government? I felt I was qualified."

Not long after becoming sheriff, Mades discovered the commitment and long work hours the job required.

As sheriff, Mades commands a staff of 198 people working at the Washington County Courthouse, the Washington County Detention Center and uniformed officers.

He also must create and present a multimillion-dollar yearly budget to the Washington County Commissioners, Mades said.

"It's not just a daylight job," he said.

Powers also works nights, typically 16 to 20 hours per week.

Powers gives students on-the-road driving instruction and also teaches in the classroom, he said.

When teaching, Powers says he tries to remember when he was a young first-time driver.

"I was nervous and I hope they are, too," he said.

Powers said the driving school gives him a chance to work with the public and still have time for his boat and for fishing.

As a former police officer, he sometimes finds himself sitting in a car with a teenager he has arrested before. Other times it's the student driver's parents he's put the handcuffs on, he said.

Recently, he taught a student he had arrested for vandalizing a local school. There were no hard feelings, Powers said.

"He did very well. He's grown up a lot," he said of the teenager.

Powers said he plans to stay with Widmyer indefinitely.

When it came time for Maryland State Police Sgt. James Kerns to retire in 1997, he said he knew he wouldn't be able to stop working.

He was used to the busy pace of police work and wanted extra income to pay for his daughter's tuition, his hobbies and vacations.

Kerns, 51, started out working at the loading docks at D.M. Bowman in Williamsport.

"It was enjoyable. It was hard work. I lost 12 pounds," he said.

The job was also seasonal, which made Kerns decide to look elsewhere.

A part-time opening at the Maryland State Department of Public Safety and Corrections doing background checks on prospective employees piqued his interest because it required investigative skills.

Kerns said he likes the job because it introduces him to all different kinds of people.

"Some (applicants) don't do so well. Some make you wonder why they're here and others are very qualified," he said.

Kerns has even encountered applicants who have warrants out for their arrest, he said.

In a few cases, "they're not fleeing, they just don't know about the warrants," he said.

Kerns also works part time at Buckingham's Choice assisted-living facility as a security guard.

Between his part-time jobs and his position as councilman for the town of Keedysville, Kerns puts in more than 40 hours a week, he said.

"When I'm 60, maybe I'll slow down," he said.

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