Monday, December 17, 2001

New Wilder police chief wants to modernize

Coming soon: Educational requirements

By Scott Wartman
Enquirer Contributor

        WILDER — When police officer Anthony Rouse took the oath to become Wilder's next police chief Dec. 3, he accomplished a 12-year-old goal he set when he joined the department in 1990 as a patrolman.

        Chief Rouse, 38, said he observed the outdated nature of the department in 1990 and immediately aspired to become police chief in hopes of updating the station.

        The officers were ill-equipped, he said, and were missing some safety items. Among the deficiencies: officers didn't have indicators on their radios to send out a distress signal in case of trouble. The police station owned only one computer.

        “It was apparent that we were 10 years behind police departments just across the river,” Chief Rouse said.

        And an update is important in this town of 2,624 in Campbell County, which saw a population jump of 279 percent since the 1990 census. Residential housing development has boomed, with new families moving in, as evidenced by the 253 percent jump in residents under age 18 since 1990.

        As a patrolman and later as a sergeant and lieutenant, Chief Rouse worked with then-Chief Hobart Strange Jr. to get the station accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, ensuring the station would be supplied with the proper equipment. He designed a new computer system for tracking and storing all the station's information.

        As police chief, Chief Rouse said his next step in modernizing the Wilder police is to require officers with the rank of associate level to sergeant to have at least a bachelor's degree.

        Such a requirement, he said, would be a first in Northern Kentucky. With a minimum standard of educa tion, Chief Rouse said, Wilder will have a police staff that is more technologically savvy.“It prevents a cultural lag,” Chief Rouse said.

        For seven years while at the police department, Chief Rouse attended Northern Kentucky University and received a bachelor of arts degree in Criminal Justice in December 2000.

        While Chief Rouse said he will strive to improve the police department, he said his main focus will be maintaining the close relationship with the community.

        With a vast majority of the criminal activity confined to traffic violations, Chief Rouse said the main job of the police is to keepclose ties with the community.

        Chief Rouse was the most logical choice to succeed outgoing Chief Strange because of his friendly rapport with many Wilder residents, said Terry Vance, city administrator.

        Chief Rouse is the first Wilder police chief to be appointed from inside the department.

        “It was a given to have someone local who has come up through the ranks. We need a chief who can maintain the rapport with the public,” Mr. Vance said.

        “We are a small city, and people know and like the law enforcement here,” Mr. Vance said.

        Chief Rouse's experience orchestrating community events like Kidsfest every July and riding into the neighborhoods on bike patrol have solidified him as a pillar of the community.

        Chief Rouse estimates he is on a first-name basis with about 80 percent of the community, who refer to him as “Officer Tony.”

        Wilder Mayor Harold Knight said he appointed Chief Rouse not only because of his popularity, but because he felt he was someone who could keep the status quo.

        “We were looking for someone who can handle people within the city and get along with others,“ Mr. Knight said. “We weren't looking for someone who will just jump in and make big changes.”


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