A life of service: Lockhart police captain retires after more than three decades
By Wesley Gardner
Longtime Police Capt. John Roescher is retiring after spending more than three decades at the Lockhart Police Department.
The city is hosting a retirement party for him at 2 p.m. Friday in the City Council Chambers located on the second floor of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library, 217 S Main St.
Roescher — who has served the city as a patrol officer, investigator and eventually captain overseeing several departments — still remembers what he was thinking just before he started as a patrol officer for the Lockhart Police Department.
The year was 1985. Roescher had already spent a few years working for a pair of police departments near Houston. When he moved to Lockhart, he expected policing a smaller community would mean a more relaxed position in the force.
“I grew up in Houston, listening to Houston radios and dispatching in the Houston area,” said Roescher. “I moved here to a small town, thinking, ‘this will be a small town, there won’t be a whole lot here. We won’t do anything.’”
Roescher, whose father was a lifelong policeman, quickly found out that sentiment was incorrect.
“I was wrong,” he said, chuckling. “When I came to work here, there were only five patrol officers, so we kind of split up and most of the time you’re working by yourself.
“We stayed very busy. I quickly learned it’s the same thing [as policing larger cities] … The difference here was that being a smaller town, you were more familiar with everyone – the people, who they were.”
Back then, Roescher said, working patrol at night often meant you were the only nearby officer on duty. This was before the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office has deputies on patrol on night and the next closest officer on duty was likely as far away as Luling.
When things got rough, Roescher said he could literally count on Lockhart locals to assist him in times of need.
“If you needed help, people in the community would hear you on the radio if nothing else, and they would show up and help you,” said Roesher. “There were several bars that were in operation back then that drew large crowds and you’d be by yourself.
“If something went wrong people would literally have to step up and help you get control. That wasn’t unusual at all for that happen … It was community policing at its best. You counted on the community and they helped, which was good because there wasn’t a lot of us.”
Roescher said a lot has changed since his early days on the force. For one, the normalization of cell phones and computers has greatly helped the department streamline tasks that used to take multiple people to complete, such as writing and processing police reports.
The department now employs more than 30 officers compared to the six or seven on staff when he started and has also implemented a communications division, which Roescher has since helped oversee.
Following a five-year stint on patrol, Roescher was promoted to investigator, where he’d spend the next ten years at the department.
“I really liked working investigations. To me, that was really rewarding,” said Roescher, noting the promotion helped him understand the prosecuting process more fully. “You got to see the cases all the way through [the court system] and actually accomplish solving the crimes as opposed to just reporting it.”
Roescher touted a number of big cases that the department successful prosecuted but said there were too many to single out any particular case.
Ten years later, Roescher was promoted within the department to captain, a position he said was far more managerial compared to his previous posts. In his capacity as captain, Roescher was in charge of records management, communications and overseeing various operations within the department.
“I was definitely putting on a different hat at that point,” said Roescher, noting he enjoyed being able to mentor and help some of the younger officers rising through the department. “It was less police work, which I really missed, but I still enjoyed it.”
According to Roescher, more than anything else, he’s going to miss being the point man for his colleagues when they need help on an important case.
“I’m the go-to person to find out what’s going on,” said Roescher. “When people have questions or need help, they still call me directly.
“That’s what’s I’m going to miss in being retired — being that person that’s there to help.”
Despite his success within the department, Roescher said the city itself was enough to keep him in Lockhart throughout the course of his career.
“The community itself quickly became home, and I had no desire to go anywhere else,” he said. “The public attitude and perception of police has changed a lot compared to when I first started, although this community here, Lockhart, I’d have to say is still very supportive of us.
“We don’t have almost any of what we see on the news. There’s very little of that here. I think the bigger this town grows, the more were going to start seeing that stuff, but for now, we enjoy very good support of the community.”
Concerning retirement, Roescher says he plans to travel with his wife and spend time with his son in Austin.
“I’m going to enjoy it,” said Roescher. “[Traveling] was something [my wife and I have] been trying to do a lot of lately. I won’t be tied down at all.”
Despite his retirement, Roescher said he’ll still be active and visible in the community he’s grown to love.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my job, and I would do it again,” he said. “I owe the community a giant thanks for making it that way.”