55 years in law enforcement ends with Kennedale KPD retirement

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Photo: (l-r) Police Chief Mike Holguin, James Couch, City Manager Darrell Hull

Posted by the Kennedale Police Department Facebook

After 55 years of law enforcement service, James Crouch officially “retired” today after serving as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Kennedale since 2013.

His law enforcement career began with the Ft. Worth Police Department in 1967. In 1987, James became an officer with the Arlington Police Department, achieving the rank of Detective Sergeant and creating and supervising the Economic Crimes Unit for the majority of his career after becoming a Computer Forensics Expert (CFE).

After retiring from Arlington, James started with Kennedale PD as a Reserve Officer and has been here until today, which also happens to be his 80th birthday!

During his tenure with KPD, James helped manage the Texas Police Chiefs Recognition Program, trained officers, and served as a firearms instructor. James could be counted on to serve 16 hours a week, every week, including holidays, and rarely missed a day.

We wish James all the best and are grateful for all he has done to help the citizens of Kennedale and the police department. It has been an honor and a pleasure serving with you.

Don’t be a stranger, you will always be a part of the KPD family! Link: Kennedale Police Department

And there is more to the story…

There is always more to the story and many times unexpected. Personal asides he grew up in Ft Worth, high school diploma from Poly, first law enforcement opportunity at 24, college degree at 38, first paying police job at 44, and he plays the violin.

His story as related in 2017 …

(The following is in part what Couch told the Kennedale News and published April 13, 2017)

Crouch was born and raised in Fort Worth in the Poly area on Strong Street, just three 3 houses away from Poly Theatre. He went to William James, graduated from Poly High School and, later at the age of 38, he got his college degree from Texas Wesleyan University, all within blocks of each other.

“There were two things I wanted to be since I was 6 years old, to be a cop and play the violin.” He laugh and said, “I have accomplished both of them.”

“I wanted to play the violin because we had a next door neighbor who played and I would sit down by the fence and listen. He would play the violin by the hours, it was so pretty. And, I said someday I want to do that. I took lesson for eight years. I still play but I don’t ever play in front of anyone, just for myself.”

His long law enforcement career started on May 20, 1967 when he joined the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department as a reserve officer at the age of 24. At the time, Crouch was under age because 25 was the minimum age, but he finally had “pestered them enough” that he was accepted.

No pay but the rest was the same …

After getting accepted by Tarrant County, he worked the next twenty years as a reserve officer moving to the Fort Worth Police Department reserves in 1968 and serving there until 1987. As a reserve officer he wore a uniform, carried a weapon, patrolled the streets, issued tickets and made arrests.

‘The only difference,’ said Crouch, “was the regular officer received a paycheck and the reserve officer didn’t.”

His day job paid too much for him to join the regular police force. All that change in 1987, when he decided that he was in a position to make a change, even though he had to take a $10,000 pay cut to join the Arlington Police Department.

44 and finally a paycheck in law enforcement …

“I worked for 25 years in Arlington. I was a reserve sergeant in Fort Worth and made sergeant in Arlington. In 1999, I was selected to head up a forgery unit in Arlington and then I created a computer forensics unit investigating computer crimes including child pornography and I did that for 13 years before going back to the patrol for a few years before I retired.”

Not one to accept retirement, he went back to work as a reserve officer for the Kennedale PD in 2013, working a couple days a week.

I have been a firearms instructor for 28 years and that is what I do here at Kennedale,” said Couch. been a firearms instructor for 28 years and that is what do here at Kennedale.” Couch added, “And, I help them out on a few cases when they need it, too.”

180 degree change in society in his time …

The changes in society has been 180 degrees since he has started according to Crouch. “Respect for authority has diminished and the police officer has suffered.”

Back when he started, it was an age where you just didn’t smart off to an officer, according to Crouch. If you decided to bow-up to an officer, you faced the consequences.

“But, that has changed and policing has gotten smarter,” he said. “And to be honest in a lot of ways it is a lot better and in some ways it is not so good.”

average citizen rarely has contact with police …

For the most part explained Crouch, the average citizen never has contact with a uniform officer unless it some minor issue such as a speeding violation or unless they need some help. Most people go years without seeing or talking with officer in an official capacity, but when they do, it is generally in a negative situation.

This is just part of the challenges that police face today according to Crouch. They have the huge majority of people that they rarely see, if at all, and then the much smaller group that they see often maybe weekly or even daily.

Couch went on to say,

“They [the officers] now days, really have to be able to differentiated between the two and respond appropriately.”

“One group can pose a serious threat of possible violence and the other not at all. And, that is even now more complicated because of the many cultural differences that an officer face in today’s diverse communities. They have to understand the culture norms including the street lingo and the day to day living situations in the various areas they work.”

“The officer has to learn to do that and how to talk to them without seeming to be talking down to them,” said Crouch.

not all police work is danger, mostly routine …

It is not dangerous all the time, mostly it is just routine. But. over the course of a lifetime, you can have your moments.

“I have been shot at nine times, never been hit. I was shot at a couple of times going on bogus calls where you would get a calls that may end up say on a deadend street. You get out to investigate and then get back into the patrol and someone in the bushes or wherever takes a shot at you.”

He said that he never considered giving it up after those incidents.

“As the old adage says, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I have always loved what I do.”