State police captain retiring after 25 years

March 28, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - He's had a broken nose, a broken jaw and quite a few broken fingers.

And after looking back on it all, it's something Capt. Sid Sponaugle still sees as enjoyable.

Even though the local West Virginia State Police officer rose through the ranks to oversee large state police operations, he said "working the road" as a trooper was the best experience.

After working for the state police in Jefferson County for 25 years, Sponaugle will retire from the force Thursday.

While a lot of the talk today about Jefferson County revolves around the growing population and related issues, it was quite different when Sponaugle arrived in the county in 1980.

"Jefferson County was a real quiet farm county when I came here," Sponaugle said.

It was so quiet that Sponaugle said he often was the only trooper working in the county on certain shifts.

If a trooper believed he was going on a call that might be dangerous, the officer sometimes had an officer from another department ride with him, Sponaugle said.


Sponaugle said he remembers times when he would pick up an officer like Bobby Shirley or Bill Roper in Charles Town or Ranson and then head to a call in the county.

Shirley is now a lieutenant for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and Roper is the police chief at the Ranson Police Department.

"That was the only backup we had in those days," the 47-year-old Sponaugle said.

And although the county may have been quiet for the most part, some alcohol-related disturbance or other trouble would break out.

A lot of the calls Sponaugle remembers were bar fights and alcohol-related trouble on the Blue Ridge Mountain.

"That was the hopping place in Jefferson County in the '80s," Sponaugle said.

Through it all, Sponaugle remembers a number of broken fingers and a broken nose. Guns were pointed at him at times, he said.

Sponaugle also was involved in police efforts to control an open-air drug market that once existed in Charles Town.

Sponaugle said he remembers one time when he and some other officers were executing arrest warrants in one of the drug stings. A trooper was shot in the foot during the operation and Sponaugle and other state police officers rushed to the scene.

On the way there, the other officer, who was driving, lost control of his car and struck a tree.

Sponaugle ended up with a broken jaw.

"I went through the windshield. Nobody knew what a seat belt was in those days," Sponaugle said.

Sponaugle, who grew up in Tucker County, worked as a trooper until 1993. That year, Sponaugle was named detachment commander of the Jefferson County barrack. In 1998, Sponaugle was promoted to district commander of the Charles Town, Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs barracks.

In 1999, Sponaugle was promoted to lieutenant, where he managed state police facilities in seven counties, including the three Eastern Panhandle counties.

In March of 2000, Sponaugle was appointed to captain, a position where he oversaw all state police operations in the seven counties.

His career also involved being sent to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., for a 12-week training session that is given to a select number of officers from around the world, he said. Sponagle was a sharpshooter for the state police for 17 years.

In that capacity, Sponaugle was trained to hit a target over a long distance with a .308-caliber rifle.

Although he was called to scenes several times, Sponaugle said he never had to fire his rifle.

Sponaugle lives with his wife Sandy and daughter Tabitha outside Shepherdstown.

The Herald-Mail Articles