OKANOGAN - Frank Rogers signed off as Okanogan County sheriff on New Year’s Eve in a similar fashion to the way he signed in 16 years earlier.
Just before midnight Dec. 31, at the end of his fourth term as sheriff, Rogers called dispatch to sign out of service. Rogers, 61, retired and turned over the sheriff’s office reins to Tony Hawley, who defeated Steve Brown in last fall’s election.
At midnight Jan. 1, 2003, Rogers had called dispatch to sign off as an Omak Police Department sergeant. A moment later, he signed in as U-1, the sheriff’s identification number.
Last Monday, during his final broadcast at 11:58 p.m., he said, “Thirty-five years went fast - 16 as sheriff went a lot faster - but it’s time for the next generation. We had a lot of fun, lot of memories, a lot of close friends. I’m gonna miss this and all of you guys.
“Just want to say thank you, I love you guys and it has been an honor to serve with you.
“And I can’t forget the citizens of Okanogan County. Without them none of this would have been possible,” said the county’s longest-serving sheriff. “You guys be safe. God bless all of you and I’ll be out of service.”
Hawley signed in as U-1 at midnight. He acknowledged Rogers’ years of service.
Among the small group of people who gathered for the switchover were Mary Beth and Dave Snyder, he the retired Okanogan Police Department chief who hired Rogers Jan. 2, 1984, as a patrol officer. Rogers moved to the Omak department in May 1986 and became sheriff Jan. 1, 2003, after defeating then-sheriff Mike Murray in the 2002 election.
“The whole thing was pretty cool, sad, exciting and surreal … all at the same time,” said Rogers of his last call-in. “To have (Snyder) here on my last day as a cop was pretty special. Meant a lot to me that he showed up at midnight, from Spokane, and I didn't even know he was coming.”
Before the radio sign-off, Rogers said he sent to emails just before midnight - one to the sheriff’s office staff and the other to all county employees.
He thanked everyone for supporting him and sent them a “get out of jail free” card that was good until midnight. And while he said he couldn’t guarantee what would happen if one were presented to an officer, “remember, it’s the thought that counts,” he wrote.
In a nod to his love of Batman, he noted there can’t be another Batman - “at least not in this county. I get to take that one to the grave with me.”
Also retiring from the sheriff’s office Dec. 31 were Undersheriff Joe Somday and Jail Administrator Noah Stewart.