Pitt describes retiring officer as Good Samaritan
By Roger Pitt
Jim Binder will spend this Christmas with his family.
Friday will be the last time he radios into the State Patrol headquarters to go off duty — ending a career patrolling Waupaca County roads.
Police work is 24-7, including holidays. Jim’s last fully-free Christmas was in 1985.
“Our boy is going to retire,” John, his dad, said recently as he passed the End Stool. “We (Jim’s mother Lynn) were there when he started and we will be there when he retires.”
Jim often talked about retirement. For months, he urged me to do a column about a change involving the people he met when in uniform.
“A lot of people are thanking me for doing my job,” he said. “It is not me, but police in general. They are recognizing how police work has changed and the danger associated with the job.”
It is obvious Jim appreciates they are opposite of those shooting police and demonstrating against law enforcement officers.
Retirement was a family decision.
Sarah encouraged his retirement. Jim readily admits she is the rock he needed in his life. They have been married 25 years.
“Our boy” sums up my relationship with Jim and his children Brooke and Brad, who visited the End Stool as toddlers. The Binders are part of my extended family.
Mostly they are giving and I am taking. It is done without me asking and without thanking.
When I broke an ankle, Jim would chauffeur me in my 1978 Lincoln Continental, including absentee voting at the Royalton town clerk’s residence.
Pitt Acres was a laboratory for Jim — who majored in natural resources at UW-Stevens Point — to acquaint Brooke and Brad with snakes, frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and various other critters and birds. An orchard with a variety of fruit trees is overgrown by self-seeding pines, oaks and flora dormant in the undisturbed soil four decades.
Jim and the kids still laugh, recalling my encounter with an 18-inch snake, one of seven species he identified on my property.
I will not touch a snake if my life depends on it. A mop was used to pin the snake to the kitchen floor and a vice grip to prevent it from disappearing beneath the cabinet whence it came.
I delivered the snake to Jim later that morning at the End Stool. The kids and Sarah handled the snake en route to its new quarters at a pond on Binder’s farm.
Jim said he was longer and a lot fatter the last time sighted. He obviously grew into “Roger,” the name Brooke gave him.
We forget that police are ordinary people that have a special, difficult job relating with the public in bad situations — life threatening events or legal issues.
This column centers on the life without a badge and uniform.
Henry Glick is the 22nd rookie trooper Binder has mentored. Eight cadets spent the entire 20-week ride along with him. Prior to the ride along, recruits spend 22 weeks at the Camp McCoy training center.
Glick has been assigned to Waushara County and lives in Waupaca. He learned more than a “good work ethic” and patrol procedures from Binder.
Jim said, “I was like any rookie going to light the world on fire” when he started. “Gene Stuhr (assistant chief at Marion) said, ‘relax, don’t be too eager.’ He stressed it was important to have a life away from the job.”
Glick said it was advice Jim passed on. Mentoring continued off duty as he participated in many of Binder’s activities — including deer hunting for a first time and dressing the deer.
Jim is an avid trapper, something rare for a city kid. After his assignment to Waupaca County, June 8, 1985, he asked Bill “Boots” Arneson of Clintonville, if he could trap his land near Jim’s Marion residence. Arneson and his wife, Alice, were his first trapping partners.
His current trapping partner John Hedtke, became interested when Jim asked permission to trap on Hedtke’s property. John’s wife Jean goes along when they run the trap line, to fundraising events and state Conservation Congress meetings which John and Jim are Waupaca County delegates.
When his official retirement begins Feb. 23, 2016, it will be 30 years, seven months, two weeks and one day since joining the State Patrol, a division of the state Department of Transportation.
The most memorable event involving Jim on duty is revealing about the man. He was the first to respond to a call of a girl tubing on the Little Wolf River drowning below the Ostrander bridge.
Shedding his gun, shirt and vest Jim dove into the water where the girl had disappeared. “I was younger and could hold my breath,” he recalled last week. “After that incident, I kept a mask in the squad [for better vision].”
The sadness on Jim’s face and drenched t-shirt and striped uniform pants told the tragic story.
A summary of major events in his career include International Association of Chief’s of Police 1977 Wisconsin State Trooper of the year; WSP Meritorious Service award in 1995 and 1997; Life Saving Award in 2000, 2006 and 2009 and Waupaca County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, 2007.
He is currently involved with the group restoring Hatten Stadium in New London, including drainage and playing field, the stands constructed by Works Projects Administration in the Great Depression, replacing the lights – including relocating the poles out of the playing area and other infrastructure.
He also is involved in several outdoor education programs for youngsters and novices.
“He is always ready to help,” End Stool regulars say.
While planning my retirement dinner, Jim asked if I would emcee his. “It will be you and me at one of the tables at Bucky’s,” he said.
His will be Jan. 10 at Romy’s Nitingale — bigger than he envisioned.
Jim has shared more than Sarah and the kids. I often see his dad John and brothers Steve and Dave. I have met his mother Lynn, but for some reason he has kept his sisters Karen and Ann in protective custody.
He will continue to protect and serve, even without a badge and uniform.