Veteran officer retires

Abbey Brown

From a single station wagon patrol car and a bathroom office to five patrol cars, a police station and an annex, Capt. Eugene Hoofer, 51, has watched and helped Western’s campus police department grow.

Last Monday he signed off on the last overtime slip, officially ending his career and beginning his retirement with the department after 27 and a half years.

When Hoofer, the former captain of patrol, was hired by Western in 1975, the department was in the midst of evolving from a security force to an accredited police department.

At 23, Hoofer was the youngest officer on the force; now the other officers refer to him as the “old man.”

Chief Robert Deane said Hoofer will be a hard person to replace.

“He was a good, hard worker,” Deane said. “I know those in patrol really look up to him and respect him. He did a lot for the department.”

Capt. Mike Wallace, who will continue his duties in the parking and communications division, will take over Hoofer’s position temporarily.

A man of many hats

Hoofer always knew he wanted to be a police officer.

Growing up in the small town of Rockport, Ind., he saw a police department that picked on younger people. He wanted to change that.

But life threw a small detour at him.

After high school, he took a job at the Whirlpool plant in Evansville, Ind. He worked there for five years until he was laid off.

Hoofer then took a job for an insurance company in Owensboro that soon transferred him to Bowling Green.

The job with campus police was meant to be temporary, but he said Western grew on him.

Hoofer has been a patrol officer, a training officer and a shift commander at the station. He was also briefly in investigations. He was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant and, finally, to captain.

Hoofer was instrumental in getting the department’s first computer, and he helped create the shuttle system and switched the parking decal system from bumper stickers to hang tags, He said.

He accepted the captain of patrol position three years ago so he could spend more time with his family, but his years “on the street” were his happiest, he said.

Reintroducing himself

Hoofer’s desire to spend more time with his wife of 32 years, Martha; daughter Gina, 25; son Clint, 16; and grandson Keegan, 18 months, prompted his retirement.

“I’ve worked so much for the last 20 some odd years, and it has taken so much away from my family,” he said, smiling. “It’s time for me to reintroduce myself to (my family.)”

The Hoofers have set aside Sunday nights as bonding time. Laughter, snacks and a strong competitive nature are present.

The game of choice right now is Skip Bo, and Hoofer really gets into it, Clint Hoofer said.

“He’s very competitive and is a sore loser,” Hoofer’s son said, laughing. “He might win every now and then, but most of the time I win.”

Martha Hoofer said the stress of being a police officer’s wife occasionally gets to her.

“I worried,” she said. “It’s been exciting but scary at times not knowing what’s going on with him.”

Although Hoofer’s hours and duties as a police officer were a strain for his family at times, it did add some spice to things.

While Gina Hoofer was at Western she said she knew her dad or one of the other officers was always watching – for good or bad.

“One time, I was speeding up Big Red Way and got pulled over,” she said laughing. “They all had to tell my dad and rag me about it. But I didn’t get a ticket.”

Gina Hoofer said her father has a strong bond with Keegan Hoofer. The two of them lived with her parents from the time he was born until just a month ago.

“Keegan’s definitely his boy,” Gina Hoofer said. “When he would cry at night, we would all try to rock him. Dad would pick him up and start singing ‘Rock-a-Bye-Baby,’ and the poor man can’t sing a note to save his life. And Keegan would look up at him and just stare. But he would stop crying.”

Another big part of Hoofer’s life is his faith. He is an active member of Hillvue Heights Christian Church, where he is a member of the safety team.

On the horizon

“He’s still on a high from being retired,” Martha Hoofer said.

Hoofer said his first week of retirement went great.

“I golfed,” he said with satisfaction.

He also did some leg work on one of his “honey-do” tasks, as he’s calling the list of home improvement items his wife has been waiting on.

Hoofer also wants to do some traveling.

“I am just excited about being able to go out and play golf or spend time with my family without having to carry around a cell phone,” he said with a smile.

Reach Abbey Brown at [email protected]