The Woodward News

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February 23, 2014

City saying goodbye to veteran police captain

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward Police Capt. Tony Alexander has been a cop so long, he's not sure what he's going to do in the second half of his life. But that's about the only thing he's not sure of.

"I know this, the people you work with here, Harvey and Carol, they are like your family," he said, speaking of Police Chief Harvey Rutherford and the chief's secretary Carol Gastineau.

Tuesday night, Alexander, barely recognizable in his civilian togs, accepted a plaque from Woodward Mayor Gary Goetzinger in honor of his 25 years of service to the Woodward Police Department (WPD).

Alexander's last day of duty with WPD will be February 28.  A retirement ceremony will be held that day in the City Commission Room at City Hall, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

ALEXANDER'S STORY

Alexander's career in law enforcement began "way before" he ever joined the WPD.

"I knew when I was this tall," he said while holding his hand about 3 feet off the ground, "that I would be in law enforcement."

Alexander began his career in law enforcement in 1976 in Mooreland.

"I attended CLEET in Alva at Northwestern Oklahoma State University," he said. "We were the first class that went continuously until you finished. Before that, you went a couple of days a week until you were done."

Alexander stayed at Mooreland for just a short time before he moved on to the Shattuck Police Department, where he remained for about 2 and a half years, he said.

"Then, I became the sheriff in Harper County and stayed there as sheriff for 10 years," he said.

During his tenure in Harper County, Alexander would experience one of his most memorable cases, the Thomas Story murder, which took place on the first day he served as sheriff, he said.

"Well, that was in 1979," he said. "We didn't know a murder had occurred until about 2 weeks later but what happened was, my first day on the job I stopped a guy in a pickup with Georgia plates."

As it turned out, the suspect was a local man, Warren Nutter, who Alexander learned later, had allegedly been in Georgia and had talked the victim, Story, into driving him back up to Harper County.

Two weeks later, Alexander, his deputies along with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents discovered the body of Story thrown in a cistern in Harper County.

As tragic as the case was, it provided Alexander a chance to provide some closure for the family, who he came to know throughout the trial.

"For me, law enforcement was a calling," Alexander said. "God has certain things for all of us and this was mine."

In all, the 63-year-old, six foot-something Alexander has served 38 years in law enforcement.

Ask him how he feels about those years of service and he'll tell you that he hopes he performed half as well as his brother, Mickey Alexander, who was killed October 22, 1969 while on patrol in Vietnam.

He'll tear up a little but try to hide it. Then he'll tell you more details about his brother's service in that sweltering, war torn country, than he can ever really bring to mind about his own stellar service as a police officer.

Ask him where he gets his dedication to duty, his love of his fellow officers and his deep connection with Sue, his wife of 40 years, and he will tell you about his father, Emmett Alexander.

"You know, one day I went by and saw my dad, he wasn't feeling too well that day and he said to me 'Well, it was 23 years ago today that we lost Mickey,'" Alexander said. "That day, I told him I would go out and feed his horse for him and he said, 'No, I will.' And he went out in the yard and fell down and died 23 years to the day my brother was killed."

A man of obvious faith and having suffered through some losses, Alexander has a bit of simple wisdom to leave behind.

"Life is swift and you better live it to the fullest and you better thank the Lord for the days you got."

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