Newly retired Logansport Police Department Lt. A.J. Rozzi said he remembers seeing the older gentleman approach him from across the parking lot.
“He appeared to have a mean look on his face,” Rozzi said. “He kept looking as he approached and said, ‘aren’t you a policeman?’ I said that I was, and he said, ‘well you arrested me about two years ago.'”
Thinking there was going to be a fight of some kind, Rozzi said he prepared to be punched in the face.
But the older man just stood there and gently reached out to shake Rozzi’s hand.
“That man told me, ‘you arrested me for drunk driving. I was an alcoholic. If it hadn’t of been for you, I was probably going to end up killing myself or someone else, and I haven’t touched a drink since the day you arrested me,'” Rozzi remembered.
Those types of stories are scattered throughout Rozzi’s tenure with LPD too, he said, all in an attempt to “treat people with respect until they give you a reason not to.
This past Monday marked Rozzi’s last day with the department, as he quietly slips off into retirement. But for a few minutes Thursday morning, Rozzi took some time to reflect on his 35-year career with the police force.
Growing up, Rozzi said he never really thought about becoming a police officer, although he had a lot of relatives who went into the profession. But something changed around his late teenage years, and Rozzi decided to make law enforcement his official career path.
After graduation from the police academy, Rozzi joined LPD as a patrol officer on the midnight shift, where he worked for about five years. In that time, Rozzi worked a lot of burglaries and bar fights perfect scenarios to get your adrenaline pumping, he said.
“Uniform division is one of the best,” he said. “You go from nothing to who knows what in a split second. It could be a bank robbery or shots fired, so you have to switch gears really fast. You’re on the spot, and you have to be able to help those people at that particular moment in their lives.”
Those first few years were the ones that really prepared Rozzi for the rest of his law enforcement career, he said, which included over 10 years as a lieutenant and chief of detectives where he served two stints, four years as assistant chief and even four years as the department’s chief of police.
And along the way, Rozzi was present for many of Logansport’s big stories from the Third Street bridge collapse in 1988 to the more recent tragedies that have devastated the county.
But it’s the little aspects of the job that Rozzi said has been most rewarding for him, particularly when it came to his work as a detective.
“When you get a really good case and work it all the way through the system, get the conviction and all the way up,” Rozzi said, “that is rewarding. You’re able to get enough evidence and make the arrest, and you know you’ve done good for the community when you get that done.”
Other rewards come from working alongside fellow officers, he said, whether that’s going on fishing trips together during off days or helping to nail down evidence at a crime scene.
“I’ve been around these guys more than my own family,” Rozzi joked. “There isn’t a guy on the department that I didn’t think would back me up and do what they needed to do on a particular call. And I’d do the same for them too.”
And although Rozzi said he doesn’t know what retirement has in store for him, LPD won’t be too far from his mind. After all, his son, Jason, is also a detective with the department. It’s something that A.J. said he’s proud of, and the feeling is mutual, as was evident in Jason’s affectionate description of his father’s work ethic.
“He’s a hard worker and never changed the person that he was,” Jason said. “He’s a good man, loyal to his wife, and if anybody is interested in knowing what it takes to be a leader, just think about him.