A fount of institutional knowledge, Kathy (Shively) Rogers is retiring September 30, 2020, from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office after 35 years spent mostly on preserving vital crime scene evidence and turning mild chaos into order.
With great good humor, Kathy even role-played once as a victim of a homicide during a training session for Crime Scene Investigators, many of whom she has retained as friends.
“I always felt that I worked with the best people I ever could. It’s been 35 great years of working with some of the best Officers, detectives and civilian staff,” said Kathy, whose last day at work is September 30.
Kathy, who grew up in Parsippany, started her career as a clerk on September 30, 1985, under the administration of then-Sheriff John M. Fox. Almost immediately, she was assigned to the Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), which has gone through multiple name changes to now being called the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Section.
Kathy was promoted frequently as a clerk and for the majority of her career had the title of Supervisor of Criminal Information Records. In April 2017, shortly after current Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon was sworn into office, she was selected to work for Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer as a confidential assistant on research projects and Civil Service and payroll-related issues.
“Kathy Rogers is a professional who had the knack for working harmoniously with everyone at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. She demanded perfection and organization but in a sensitive way that taught others how to rise above their mistakes, without causing offense. Her sense of humor, institutional knowledge and caring about the quality of the agency will be greatly missed,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Undersheriff Spitzer agreed that Kathy will be deeply missed upon her retirement.
“From the onset, I have relied on Kathy to reinforce that I was making sound and just decisions, but more importantly, to tell me when I was not!” said Undersheriff Spitzer.
“Kathy is a strong voice, and with the personal confidence she has built throughout her years of service she would always deliver the truth, even if I wasn’t ready to hear it.”
“From the start, she was very concerned for the working conditions of the newest Keyboarding clerk to the experienced Chief; she has always had the protection of the individual employee paramount in her mind,” Undersheriff Spitzer said.
Recognizing Kathy’s talent for teaching others and her ability to visualize how disarray and chaos can be turned into order, one of her earliest responsibilities in BCI was to lead the reorganization of the evidence vault which then was located in the basement of the Morris County courthouse. That major job was performed while she accepted and signed out crime scene evidence to detectives from local police departments and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We made sure everything was properly boxed and sealed and all paperwork was in order. It was a great project and in the long run, it was organized so that we could find anything quickly. We made sure the integrity of evidence always remained tight so that it couldn’t be questioned,” she said.
Over the decades and as the CSI title was periodically modified, Kathy worked in a tiny building in Morris Township, in the so-called Washington Building in Morristown, which eventually was demolished, and “on the hill” in Parsippany, where a modernized Crime Lab and CSI Section offices now are situated.
Under the 24-year administration of Sheriff Edward V. Rochford, CSI and the Crime Lab were split and then merged back, with Kathy handling the necessary paperwork to effect the re-merger.
Through it all, she supervised and trained civilian staff to properly accept, handle, log and sign out evidence collected from crime scenes.
The role brought her into contact with detectives from around Morris County – including now-Sheriff Gannon when he was a detective for the Prosecutor’s Office. She found the work fascinating and the detectives she met engaging, accepting her and her civilian colleagues as part of a team.
“It was interesting to see how all the agencies worked together. I also learned that even with all the newest techniques, it always comes down to basic good investigative work. Techniques improve but basics don’t really change,” she said.
She and a colleague seized the chance to work closely with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in 2003, with a team led by Sheriff Gannon who then was Deputy Chief of Investigations for the Prosecutor’s Office. Kathy worked at the Sheriff’s Office all day and at night assisted the Prosecutor’s Office with maintaining logs and lists of information about the Dec. 1, 2002 murders of two clerks at the Funcoland game shop in Roxbury.
The investigation had temporarily gone cold but before the first anniversary of the killings, three suspects were identified, charged and ultimately convicted. By then, Kathy and other civilian clerks in the CSI Section also were going to crime scenes with detectives to assist with maintaining evidence lists and other tasks.
Working directly in Administration for the past three years strikes her as a fitting finale, a chance to see how all the sections of the Sheriff’s Office meld together.
Friends already are inquiring what she will do next. Kathy said she is stocking up on recipes and plans to cook more for her husband and might work part-time for a friend.
“I like living in the moment. I’m just going to do whatever I want to do,” she said.