Married ISP troopers head off into retirement

Retired ISP Master Trooper Richard Crawford and his wife, retired ISP Lt. Niki Crawford, have been married 25 years. (Submitted photo)

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - It's not unusual for law enforcement officers from different agencies or departments to be married.

But it is unique for two Indiana State Police troopers to be married to one another.

"In a department of 1,200-1,300, there's probably less than 8 or 9 that are married couples, said retired ISP Master Trooper Richard Crawford.

The Crawfords have been married for more than two decades and together they have 60 years of law enforcement experience.

The Indiana natives met in June 1994 during in service training in Fort Wayne.

"She just kept kicking the back of my chair and I thought, 'I don't know what is wrong with this girl,'" Richard said as Niki smiled. "I took the ball and ran with that because I thought she was just stunning."

As a part of their training, they had to break into small discussion groups and discuss their priorities.

"The things he talked about on that list of priorities things, really struck me and I think the first emotion I ever felt for him was respect," said retired ISP Lt. Niki Crawford.

They say being able to relate to each other's work experiences is a strength in their relationship, but the very nature of working in law enforcement does present it's challenges.

Niki said being a law enforcement officer means you spend all day problem solving for others as part of your job. As a team, they communicate with one another about what they need because sometimes it's difficult to come home and continue to make head-of-household decisions after a long day.

"It's so easy to shut yourself off because you do see a lot of horrible things. It's really important you try to maintain that communication when you come home," said Niki.

Communication and teamwork has been very important throughout their 25 years of marriage. Together, they have three kids and five grandkids.

Their success at home is mirrored in each of their careers.

Niki has worked undercover, graduated from the FBI Academy and helped launch the Meth Suppression Section.

"We went from 500 to 600 labs a year 'til we were number one in the country, working 1,800 labs a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants," she said.

Niki was later promoted to Commander of the Meth Suppression Section.

"I was able to sit on a national methamphetamine pharmaceutical board out of the Office of National Drug Control Policy out of D.C. And I was invited to testify to a congressional subcommittee as well," she said, reflecting on some of her many career highlights.

Richard was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Eric Holcomb and has protected several state governors.

"Governor (William) Schaefer in Maryland and Governor Mitch Daniels, who is obviously the current president of Purdue and Governor Pence who is vice president, and Governor Holcomb," said Richard.

He explained how it is difficult to put into words how he felt when both Governor Daniels and Governor Holcomb surprised him at his retirement party.

Reflecting on his career, he said one of the biggest highlights was meeting President George W. Bush on Air Force One.

"So me and the president, Governor Daniels stayed where he was at, me and the president were heading to the front of Air Force One having a conversation like I would with my dad. He gives me a tour of the private area. And we went into the conference room and we had a real good talk about 9/11 in there."

The excitement of meeting the President is clear as his eyes twinkled while he recalled the experience.

Richard also accompanied then-Governor Pence to New Jersey when he was being vetted for vice president.

The hardest career days for both Niki and Richard involve losing friends in the line of duty. The Crawfords turned that pain into a cause through their efforts in assisting the annual Cops Cycling for Survivors.

The ride is a day when active and retired police and their families bike around the entire state of Indiana to raise funds for the family members and surviving co-workers of fallen officers.

"It was an honor to help take that and build it. And we had just such a great board of people that we worked with," said Niki.

Retiring from Indiana and preparing to move out of state is bittersweet for the couple.

Looking back on this chapter of their life, both career- and family-wise, Richard said, "I think we did OK."

"And the reason I say that is because both of our boys and our daughter, who is up in Michigan. She has a great family up there. And our two boys are both in college and they're both very independent and they can take care of themselves now," he said with pride.

So what's next?

"I'm going to be a contractor for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I'm going to be working for their dangerous drug task force," Niki said.

"I'll get home from the golf course and I'll have dinner ready for her when she gets home from work and a beverage, so I'm ready for that," Richard said as Niki laughed.

As this power couple prepares to move south and "away from snow," it's clear Indiana has left just as much of a fingerprint on their hearts as they have left in the community.

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