FULTON, Ill. — In the summer of 2013, the Fulton Police Department took a staffing hit when police chief James Rhoades and Lt. Donnie Pridemore took medical leave.
In order to fill the void, making sure the department could continue efficiently, officers Dave Bartels and Jeremy Leitzen stepped up and took over the department’s leadership.
Because of that commitment, the two were recognized Monday during a Fulton City Council meeting at City Hall.
“Tonight I would like to recognize the police department officers for the extended period of time when both Lt. Pridemore and myself were off on medical leave,” Rhoades said. “Not only did personnel sustain daily operation of the department but they also maintained our high standards for public safety.”
When the unexpected medical leave hit the department, Rhoades in late July 2013 and Pridemore in June 2013, it left the force without any supervisory leadership. The department was left with many questions as to how they would maintain.
That’s when former Fulton City Administrator Randy Balk suggested the department look to Bartels to aid in filling the leadership role.
As a former Illinois State Police Master Sergeant, Bartels became the go-to choice as the best candidate.
During Monday’s award presentation, Bartels thanked the City Council for their support during the transitional period and working with him as he adjusted to the new position. He added that without the assistance of the rest of the police department staff, he never would have been able to conduct business as smoothly as he was.
“It was a concerted effort. Everybody had a part and it kept everything running as well as it did during that time,” Bartels said. “In 37-plus years of being a police officer, I’ve had contact with numerous law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Illinois, Iowa and nationwide and I’d think you’re going to find it hard pressed to find another department with the group of people you have here. With the professionalism and as good as they are.”