Fred Roth

Alexander City Police Department deputy chief James Easterwood, left, presents Capt. Fred Roth with a gift at Roth’s retirement ceremony last week. Roth has served Alexander City for 28 years and 10 months.

Fred Roth has spent most of his life as an officer with the Alexander City Police Department, but he is leaving the rest of his life “up to God.”

Roth retired with 28 years and 10 months of service to the citizens of Alexander City, much of that time on the SWAT team. Family, friends and co-workers celebrated the occasion with him last week. While his plans for retirement aren’t fully settled, they definitely include spending more time with family after sacrificing special moments.

“You lose dinner dates and family events,” Roth said. “I remember just ordering dinner with family in Sylacauga and getting a page to respond to a SWAT call. My brother lived in Japan and was training in Anniston for three weeks and it didn’t work out to see him.”

Retiring while he can still enjoy life with family and make up for all he missed is one reason for retirement.

“It can put a strain on relationships,” Roth said. “You want to spend time with family while you can.”

Beyond spending time with loved ones, Roth does have other ways he’ll fill his time during retirement.

“My wife and I have plans to build a home,” Roth said. “It’s in the country but it’s still in Alexander City.”

Roth and his wife Darlene have been married for 10 years.

Roth also likes his time outside.

“I really enjoy hunting and fishing,” Roth said.

Roth said he has no immediate plans to reenter the workforce, but he is not opposed to a second career.

“If the right thing comes along I will work again,” Roth said. “I like carpentry and will do some, maybe it will lead to more. I will leave it up to God.”

Roth said his original plans were to retire earlier.

“The goal was to retire with 25 years of service,” Roth said. “The way life works, it doesn’t always work out. Stuff comes up and a few things still need to get paid off.”

Roth said he came to Alexander City from Wisconsin to live and wanted to work in law enforcement but not necessarily with the Alexander City Police Department for his entire career.

“I got promoted fairly early,” Roth said. “Once I got sergeant in three years it solidified me staying with the Alexander City Police Department.”

Roth serving on SWAT but made personal life difficult.

“I was on the SWAT team the majority of the time was here,” Roth said. “I started as a team member then to leader. I eventually led the whole team. It was a 24/7 job.”

Over his nearly three decades in law enforcement, Roth said he has seen changes especially in citizens’ attitudes in the last 15 years.

“As you go through time, people are under the presumption law enforcement oversteps its boundaries,” Roth said. “They get upset when you make a traffic stop. Used to the public greatly respected the police. Now everyone wants to argue making matters worse.”

More documentation has helped protect law enforcement.

“Accountability is a real big change,” Roth said. “Now we have body cameras to not only show what an offender might do but to document the officer to show he did things correctly.”

Alexander City police chief Jay Turner and deputy chief James Easterwood said Roth’s experience will be missed.

“We will miss him here at the department,” Turner said. “We wish him well in his endeavors.”

Easterwood said, “He was a good officer and good guy. It’s hard to replace his experience.”

Roth said he is thankful of the gifts, such as the mementos, badges and service weapon at his retirement ceremony and believes the department is in good hands.

“I’m really appreciative of the gifts and dinner at the retirement ceremony,” Roth said. “It’s a really good department.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.