- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
After 32 years of service, Captain Forrest “Trees” Roper has decided to retire from duty. Roper began his career in law enforcement in 1984, his first position as a patrol deputy with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office.
“My entire career has been with this office,” Roper said. Roper served as a patrol deputy for twelve years, then transferred to the Millard County Jail as a jail supervisor before being promoted to jail commander for seven years. Roper served as administrative lieutenant, before moving to his final position as Chief Deputy for the past eight years.
“I’ve been through just about every division we have, with the exception of investigations,” Roper said. “When they started me on, a deputy took the case and followed it through. Now detectives do all that.”
Roper said some aspects of law enforcement have changed since his beginnings. “Technology for one thing, like every other aspect of our lives, has changed drastically. We’re essentially still using the same radio system, with some modern modifications.”
Roper also said the perception of law enforcement by the public has been changing in the past few years.
While serving with the sheriff’s office, Roper was actively involved in the emergency preparedness of the county.
“In 1988, the emergency preparedness and management functions had been assigned by the county commission to the sheriff’s office,” Roper said. “So I’ve been involved since then with the State of Utah, and was introduced through the state to CERT.”
Roper was Chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The LEPC is a function of hazardous material management. It is a federal requirement that each community has an LEPC.
“We, as well as most other counties and municipalities, use that forum as emergency planning for all hazards.”
One of Roper’s most memorable experiences during his career occurred on July 28, 1988.
Roper was halfway through his hazardous material training, when a truck wrecked approximately twenty miles south of Fillmore, and in the process, dumped twenty-five thousand pounds of extremely toxic sodium cyanide along Interstate 15.
“We ended up shutting down the freeway and closing the airspace for a five mile radius,” Roper said. “I was out there nonstop, for about ninety-six hours. We had responders from many other counties helping us. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
Roper credits the spill as more or less a good memory of his service--another event ingrained in his memory was the loss of Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox.
“I’ll never forget that,” he said.
Roper said he never initially had the great desire to enter law enforcement. “I was in between jobs, and thought it would be good benefits, and that it would be an interesting job and it has been.”
Roper’s previous jobs have included ten years as a building contractor, pouring concrete in the Salt Lake Valley, and local agriculture.
“I knew I’d never get rich doing this job but, overall, the people in this office and other offices, and the public have been great. There are times when you get a hug or a handshake from someone you’ve helped, and it makes it go a long ways.”
Roper said being a sheriff’s deputy has been one of the most rewarding jobs he’s ever had.
“Trees has been an asset to this office since the day that he started,” Sheriff Robert Dekker said, “He has one of the best work ethics of anybody I know. He’s never satisfied with mediocre, he’ll always do the best that he can.”
Dekker says Roper shines in whatever assignment he’s been given, with examples of helping modernize the sheriff office’s communication systems and keeping EMS codes up to date.
“He’s been a good friend and confidant. His position will be very hard to fill,” Dekker said.
Roper’s last day with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office is Oct. 3.