From Precinct to Pub: Bill DeVore Retires from Yelm Police Department to Run 507 Taproom Full-Time
Among the many patrons of Bill DeVore’s popular 507 Taproom & Filling Station, some stand out – at least to him. Those would be the people he has arrested at some point in his 26-year career with the Yelm Police Department.
“They feel comfortable enough to come in, have a beer and talk,” DeVore explains. “They know that there’s no judgment on my side. I’ve been told that because of the respect I showed them, they want to show that respect back. I appreciate that because it shows I did something right.”
DeVore retired on June 30, 2021, after having served as a reserve officer, full-time patrol officer, school resource officer and detective. Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil has known him since 1995 and agrees with the self-assessment. “Bill didn’t judge you for being a bad guy,” he says. “There wasn’t much fluctuation. You were a person to him, and he treated you with fairness and consistency.”
Stancil also remembers what happened the year DeVore graduated from the police academy. “Bill got an award from his class,” Stancil recalls. “He was voted as the best partner that you would want to go into any scenario with. That always stuck with me.”
According to Assistant Police Chief Rob Carlson, DeVore brought several memorable behaviors to his various roles. One was consistently checking in with his colleagues. “Bill would not hesitate to ask if you’re doing okay,” Carlson notes, “especially if he felt like you weren’t having a normal, positive day. If you were willing to give him any information, he would listen to you.”
Another was an encyclopedic knowledge of sports statistics that he would occasionally spring on his colleagues. “Bill would come up and say, ‘So and so got traded today,’” Carlson explains. “Then he would have to explain what team and player he was talking about. He was always in three or four fantasy leagues and knew about every player and their position. We’ll miss that when football season rolls around.”
According to Stancil, Carlson and Officer Jared Geray, another longtime colleague of DeVore’s, he also had a reputation for going through brakes on cars faster than most. “We had a Dodge Charger that was freakishly fast,” Stancil laughs. “That was Bill’s dream car. It didn’t matter if he was chasing somebody or just leaving a stop sign. He would go from zero to 60 as fast as he could. I remember riding around with him thinking, ‘How do you still have a driver’s license?’ But he was a good driver, which was why he became an instructor for us.”
For his part, DeVore’s fondest memories are of his time as a resource officer at Yelm High School. Before agreeing to take the job, he gained approval from his daughters, both of whom were attending the school at the time. Aside from patrolling campus, he conducted small classes for 9th-graders to help them understand laws around driving safety and other issues.
“I always left it at the end that they could ask me anything, with no repercussions,” says DeVore. “Most of them would ask about the taser or about whether they could get into the military if they had something on their record. The kids really enjoyed that.”
With both teens and adults, his approach was the same: providing honest answers and letting people know what to expect. “I’m straightforward with them about what’s going to happen if they make certain choices,” DeVore says. “They appreciate honesty and after that, they’ll usually do what you ask of them.” Some of the students who were in those classes a decade ago now drop by the 507 Taproom, which DeVore owns with his wife Sara.
The Taproom’s success was a significant factor in DeVore’s retirement. There was no way for him to return to being a patrol officer once his rotation as a detective ended and continue operating the bar. One regular is Jeevan Anandasakaran, a web application developer and board chair of the local nonprofit Bounty for Families.
Local realtor and founder of the nonprofit Nisqually Party for a Purpose Scotty Brown agrees. “The Taproom has become a fantastic place for friends and neighbors to meet up,” he says. “Bill has cultivated an environment where all are welcome – longtime Yelm residents and newcomers alike.”“I’ve never seen a business open in Yelm as successfully as with as much community support as Bill’s 507 Taproom,” Anandasakaran maintains. “The character and welcoming nature of the staff and patrons alike are what keep me coming back.”
As much as DeVore’s former colleagues will miss him, they’re also proud of his success. “He’s always had a passion for beer and microbrews,” says Carlson. “Now he’s opened up his own place. He did that off a dream, which is pretty cool.”
He is equally appreciative of his time with the city and the people he’s worked with. “There’s a camaraderie that you can’t change,” DeVore reflects. “I truly appreciate what the city provided for my family and that’s one of the reasons I’m more than glad to give back to the community.”
DeVore won’t reveal his plans for the future of the Taproom, but something is definitely in the works. “It will be a surprise and something everyone will enjoy,” he says. “I’ll be busier in the next month than I was when I was working two jobs. I retired for a reason.” Learn more by visiting the City of Yelm’s website.
By Heidi Smith