Rousey recalls long career in law enforcement

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

After working for 35 years in law enforcement, Archie Rousey has many stories to tell. And after retiring Sept. 30, he finally has time to tell them.

Rousey began working in law enforcement in 1979 in Carroll County. He worked as a jailer, where he saw "everything from shoplifters to murderers." After seven years as a jailer, he was promoted to jail commander. In this role, Rousey supported the jail's administration as well as managing the other jailers. He set schedules and dealt with "a lot of personnel issues" as jail commander.

Later, he moved on to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.

Rousey graduated from the academy in the top 10 of his class, then began his work in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He called his time as a criminal investigator the most rewarding part of his career, recalling the murder of Stephen Goff specifically. Goff was beaten to death with a hammer by his wife Linda in 1994; the beating was so severe that Rousey found bits of brain matter and skull scattered throughout the crime scene.

"I personally became involved in the case because of the devastation it caused the family, but I had to remain objective for the investigation," he said, calling the murder "the most horrific crime" he has ever seen on the job.

While the murder upset Rousey on a personal level, he said it was rewarding to work on it because of the closure the investigation brought the slain man's children.

"The children were the most devastated," he said, adding that this case was the first murder case in Arkansas to utilize DNA evidence.

Linda Goff claimed she slept through the murder, but Rousey found her husband's blood in the shower drain, suggesting that she had showered after the murder and "completely blowing" her alibi.

Rousey and his wife, Linda, then moved to Morrilton, where he began working as a parole officer. In 2001, he was called back to Carroll County to work as chief deputy for the sheriff's office. He went into "semi-retirement" in 2003 and began doing private investigation and security work.

In 2008, Rousey decided to run for sheriff but was not elected.

"I guess I made too many arrests," he joked, noting that he met current Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek on the campaign trail. The two struck up a friendship, and when Grudek was later elected sheriff, he asked Rousey to come back to the sheriff's office to run the new detention center.

"I told him, 'I'm too old to wrestle drunks and chase kids, but I'll run your jail,' " Rousey recalled.

There, he implemented several programs that have saved taxpayers thousands of dollars, specifically the commissary program and the work-release program. The commissary program gives inmates access to various items -- such as candy, soap and basic toiletries -- and has amassed $60,000 per year since its inception. Rousey wrote an ordinance directing the commissary fund to pay for the inmates' medical expenses; prior to the ordinance, $30,000 taxpayer dollars were set aside each year for these expenses.

"Now the inmates are paying for their own medical care," he said.

Linda Rousey said the program has helped boost inmate morale, as well as saving tens of thousands of dollars a year.

"They're happy to get that candy bar or that type of shampoo," she said, adding that the program brought the jail into the 21st century. Rousey noted that if an inmate has behavioral problems, he or she will not have access to the commissary program. This, he believes, also helps encourage inmates to be on their best behavior.

The work-release program began as a way for "dead-beat dads" to serve time for failing to pay child support while still working and paying child support. Those jailed for failing to pay child support must stay in jail at nights and on weekends but can work during the day, allowing them to keep their job and their children to continue receiving money. This program has branched into the district and circuit courts as well.

Rousey also hired a nurse for the jail, finding extra revenue after firing a member of the kitchen staff. With that person's salary, Rousey hired a nurse to take care of inmates' immediate medical issues.

"At that point, if an inmate so much as got a stomach ache, they had to go to the emergency room," he said.

Today, if an inmate falls or has a minor sickness, he or she can be treated at the jail.

Rousey has seen many "horrific" scenes, including the suicide of a 12-year-old boy and the accidental death of an 8-year-old boy. He said he keeps his composure by maintaining faith in others and keeping his family close.

"You have to come home and hug your kids and kiss your wife to get away from it," he said.

Now that he has retired, Rousey plans to work on household renovations with Linda. He said he hopes to start working in his wood shop soon.

"I'm just going to tinker around the yard for a little while," he said.

He also will help Linda tend to her sick mother.

Though he did witness gruesome crime scenes, he said that he still treasures his time in law enforcement.

"What I will remember most is all the good people I worked with," he said.

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