Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CCSO Remembers Former Sheriff Aubrey Rogers

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of former Sheriff Aubrey Rogers, who died early Wednesday morning after a long illness. He was 83.

Flags at CCSO are being flown at half-staff and deputies are wearing black stripes on their badges in honor of Rogers, who served as sheriff from 1975 until his retirement in 1989.

Rogers was born in Fort Myers on Aug. 27, 1926. He moved to Naples in 1957, when he was 31 years old. Early in his high school life Rogers began to think about a career in law enforcement. He as a child had a great uncle who was a U. S. Marshal, and a best friend’s father who was a policeman. They greatly influenced his future in law enforcement, so in 1948, at the age of 22 he went to work for the Fort Myers Police Department, which at that time had only a handful of officers.

In 1957, then Collier County Sheriff E. A. Doug Hendry hired Rogers, whom he had previously worked with at the Fort Myers Police Department, to work in the Everglades jail.

When he began his career as a deputy at CCSO, Rogers earned 74 cents an hour. He eventually became Sheriff Hendry’s chief deputy.

On Nov. 19, 1975, then-Florida Gov. Reuben Askew appointed Rogers as sheriff of Collier County, replacing Hendry, who had resigned.

Rogers held office for 13 years, running as a Democrat in a mostly Republican county. He was succeeded by his former chief deputy, Don Hunter, who was elected sheriff in 1988.

During his tenure, Sheriff Rogers successfully carried the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in an era of tremendous growth. For Sheriff Rogers, the only way to cope with a growing Collier County was to have an agency that was growing right along with it.

Sheriff Rogers embodied a unique blend of crime-fighting and community service during his years as the head of the agency. He successfully battled moonshiners and Miami’s cocaine cowboys while developing an agency-wide focus on community and youth services. In essence, Sheriff Rogers laid the foundation for the progressive law enforcement agency we have today.

For a man who never really had his eye set on being a sheriff, Rogers brought a lot of history to CCSO. Here are some of his accomplishments during his 31 years as a member of CCSO:

In 1959 Rogers became the first “investigator” with the implementation of a new Investigations Bureau of the agency.

In 1978 Sheriff Rogers introduced “CB radios’ into the communications center so that dispatchers could listen for emergency calls and talk to truckers traveling the desolate Alligator Alley.

In January 1978, Sheriff Rogers, the Collier County Fair Board and the Mighty Blue Grass Shows worked in concert to provide a new benefit for fourth-grade children involved in the Junior Deputy Program -- they added a trip to the Collier County Fair, a tradition that continues today.

In January 1979, in order to address rising and constantly moving crime, FOCUS was formed under the direction of Sheriff Rogers. The team could be deployed anywhere in the county. The team was basically a five-man unit that could deploy to handle special crime problems such as burglaries and provide surveillance. FOCUS stood for: Flexible Operations Component Unzoned Support.

Rogers brought the 911 system to Collier County.

Rogers brought laser technology to the crime scene realm for analyzing fingerprints.

Rogers was instrumental in combating drunk drivers with the first Bat Mobile (blood alcohol testing van).

Rogers was instrumental in developing the Junior Deputy League.

Rogers brought deputies into the Collier County schools with the creation of the Youth Relations Deputies (YRD).

Rogers worked with the DEA and other federal agencies to combat drugs on a local and national basis.

Rogers started the agency’s awards programs, issuing the first Purple Heart and Meritorious Service medals.

NOTE: CCSO would like to thank the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Alumni Association for its assistance in gathering historical information about Sheriff Rogers’ career.