BINFORD Bob Roggenbuck was in law enforcement for more than 38 years. In a way, his career is a link to "throwback" days a true link to the "old days" of North Dakota law enforcement.
Roggenbuck retired recently from his post as police chief in Ashley, capping a career in which he took great pleasure in working in smaller communities rather than making a pursuit of what many would consider "bigger" opportunities in the field.
"Others often pursued the larger departments to work among a larger peer group and perhaps have more anonymity in the community," Bob's brother, Dan Roggenbuck, told The Minot Daily News. "Bob chose to work in smaller communities where the role of one person serving as a leader in the community has a greater impact on others."
Dan Roggenbuck was formerly an FBI officer stationed in Minot. Dan's wife, Sandra Collins Roggenbuck, is a former Minot City Council member.
Dan describes Bob as being responsible for his own decision to enter the law enforcement field.
Bob Roggenbuck began work at the Minot Police Department in 1967, just one year after the beginning of the "Miranda rights" era in law enforcement. Since then, he has served as a deputy sheriff in Ward, McLean, Stark, Ransom, Burke and Griggs counties. In addition to Minot, he also served as a police officer in West Fargo and as a part-time police officer in Carrington and Harvey.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to email@example.com.
Much of Bob Roggenbuck's time was spent serving as the chief of police in smaller North Dakota communities. In addition to his most recent post as the police chief in Ashley, he had prior stints in Westhope, Richardton, Enderlin and Medora to his credit as well.
Over that period, many changes have come down the pike.
The Minot Daily News asked him Nov. 1 how it felt to hang up his badge after 38 years.
"It's funny," Roggenbuck said. "Really different."
Noting that he started in Minot, he put things into perspective by noting that all his contemporaries have left the force.
"There's been so many changes over the years," Roggenbuck said. "But I hardly know anybody anymore. The last guy I think that worked there when I did was Clint Wolf. Boyd Galgerud was another one."
Many moments are etched into his memory, some more prominently than others.
"I spotted a fire one night when I was working for McLean County," Roggenbuck said. "I started driving toward it, but I couldn't find it. I worked my way toward it. Eventually I found a neighbor. We got to it, and the guy didn't even know that his house had caught fire yet.
"It started as a barn fire, and sparks had gotten over to the house and started it."
Some of those memories, though, are of the ilk that he would probably rather not have.
"I was the only one working in Stark County the night John Huber killed all those people," Roggenbuck said, referring to the March 15, 1983, shotgun slayings. "I worked three of the four homicide investigations."
But the good likely outweighs the bad, he said.
"Another memorable thing was the 10 years I spent in Medora," he said. "That was a beautiful place to live and work."
Roggenbuck also established and worked with law enforcement exploring groups, career-oriented programs designed to give young adults information and experience in working with police officers.
"Bob enjoyed working with kids and community groups, and worked to have a positive influence in each of the communities he served across the state," Dan said.
Bob is a longtime member of the North Dakota Association of Chiefs of Police, having served as president of the organization in 2001-2002.
Roggenbuck isn't sure what he'll do with his newfound free time, but said he has at least one offer to do some light, part-time police work.
Asked what advice he would give to someone considering a career in law enforcement, Roggenbuck was succinct.
"Think about how soon retirement is," he said. "It just doesn't seem so long ago that I was just starting."