Slain Chattahoochee Hills officer laid to rest

On Monday afternoon, police Lt. Mike Vogt was alone on a dirt road when he was mortally wounded.

Five days later, authorities shut down one of the region’s busiest stretches of road — five miles of the northern arc of I-285 — to carry Vogt to his final resting place.

The funeral procession Saturday afternoon was a classic law enforcement tribute to a fallen hero: bagpipes, honor guard and rows of officers in dress blues standing at attention. Nearly 100 motorcycle cops and about 350 police vehicles, lights flashing, rode in the procession from the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, the low rumble of the bikes leading the way.

Vogt, a 56-year-old officer in the tiny force of Chattahoochee Hills in south Fulton County, might have smiled at all the fuss made over him. He was a serious man who didn’t take himself seriously. A photo of him in blue jean cutoffs and a cowboy hat that flashed up on the church screen demonstrated that.

Friends said he was both a talker and a doer, an easy study with all sorts of law enforcement expertise — from arson probes to fraud investigations to computer training, both in private security and for police agencies.

But mostly he liked donning a uniform and going out there on patrol.

“He was the first to pull a watch in Chattahoochee Hills,” said that new city’s chief, Damon Jones. He added that “police badge No. 10 will [be retired and] always belong to Mike.”

Vogt allegedly was shot to death on Monday by Robert M. Cook, who police said did not want to be arrested on DUI charges. He fired a high-powered rifle at Vogt after being encountered by the officer on a rural road. Vogt was able to back up his squad several yards, before succumbing to his injuries. Cook was arrested two days later and faces murder charges.

Former Union City police Chief Mike Isome worked with Vogt for years on numerous investigations. But he said Vogt liked the action of police work — even when he wasn’t wearing the blues.

Once, years ago, Isome was called to a shoplifting case at a shopping mall. Arriving at the scene, he heard tires screeching and saw a Volkswagen fly around the corner with a man on the hood “holding on for dear life.”

“I asked, ‘Who is that nut?’ and someone said, ‘That’s Mike Vogt,’ ” Isom recalled. “I was standing there watching Mike Vogt do something I’d never do.”

At the time, Vogt was security director for Rich’s department store. Soon afterward, he was a colleague of Isome’s on the Union City force.

Years, later the two of them were sitting in a police car when Vogt told Isome he was “missing something” in his life. Minutes later he had a conversion to Christ, Isome recalled, “right there in a stakeout on a cold, rainy November night.”

His faith had to be strong, because tragedy has been no stranger to the Vogt family

The Vogts, who had six children, lost a teenage son, Mikey, and a daughter, Jamie, when she was in childbirth. Rodger Rehorn, an old friend and business partner, recalled asking his buddy how he pulled through.

“My family,” Vogt told him. “That’s what keeps me strong.”

Vogt and his wife then raised Jamie’s daughter, Taylor.

Vogt, a Wisconsin native and Green Bay Packers fan, came to Atlanta in the early 1980s to work for Federated Department Stores. Vogt later worked in insurance companies setting up fraud and arson investigation units.

Vogt spoke at the memorial service, telling the congregation about how Vogt, in 2004, worked with him to win an account to put GPS systems in a national pest control company’s 8,000-vehicle fleet.

Vogt immersed himself in the proposal’s details and then came to the presentation, which he gave before a roomful of businessmen in suits. The funny thing, Rehorn recalls, was Vogt sported a beard and a ponytail because he was working part-time for Union City police in narcotics. Thankfully, Vogt took off his earrings as Rehorn had suggested. Their firm won the account.

Vogt is survived by his wife, Lendell Meyer Vogt of Fairburn; daughters Stephanie Morris of Woodstock, Crystal Vogt of Sandy Springs and Taylor Vogt of Fairburn; a son, Noah Vogt, of Fairburn; parents Jack F. and Tommye Flinn Vogt of Ocala, Fla.; brothers Pat Vogt and Chris Vogt, both of Ocala, Fla., and John Vogt of Jackson, Wisc.; and five grandchildren.