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Sheriff Ernest W. “Goldie” Roach




Earnest Roach, popular and respected as a detective, commissioned a study of other sheriffs offices to establish standards for equipment, manpower and budgets. He died of a heart attack following a Shriner’s parade just after a primary election victory guaranteed his second term.

Earnest Roach became a deputy in 1930. He served in every department and was the chief criminal deputy for 6 years. He emphasized the scientific investigation of crime. He was a 1939 graduate of the National Police Academy conducted by J. Edgar Hoover. He established the Crime Prevention Division, which was headed by Jewel Jordan. He also established the Sheriff’s Peace Officers Police Training School which was jointly sponsored by the FBI.

From an obituary in the Arizona Republic written by long-time friend, Gene McClain July 1946.

The slow-talking, easy-going officer who was saluted variously as “Goldie” by his close friends and “the high sheriff” by his co-workers, through 16 years of law enforcement had a record for which he never had to alibi.

He had just been overwhelmingly voted the a second time the Democratic nomination for his office, considered tantamount to election in Arizona.

Sheriff Ernie Roach was a link between the sheriff of the early West with his boots, his six-gun and his hat, and the scientifically trained law enforcement of today. He was the exemplification of the man who came up through the ranks, for it was as a deputy sheriff that he first pinned on a badge in 1930. He teamed up with the late Lon Jordan and together they formed not only a friendship which made them inseparable, but theirs was a law enforcement team widely known to peace officers in the Southwest.

Roach wasn’t a cowboy, but as a western sheriff he affected the role and no Phoenix visitor could have been disappointed in the boots and hat, fancy shirts and ties in which Sheriff Roach appeared. He often spoke in the range land vernacular, greeting the newsmen who covered his office with the friendly salutation, “Hi there, Old Horse.”

Perhaps the most striking feature about Ernie Roach was his humbleness. The county’s chief law enforcement officer, he never presumed on his authority. He never forgot he was a public servant and he never permitted his deputies or other employees to lose sight of the fact that they were on the job to serve the public.

And in the years to come, when the men who wage a constant battle against crime and wont to gather and talk of the ‘good old days’, they will remember Sheriff Ernie Roach……his honesty…..his humbleness…..his principles of justice. They won for him a legion of friends.”