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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Police chief retires after 40 years of service

  • In more than 40 years of police work, John Betzer has served in many roles in Kansas and Missouri.
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  • In more than 40 years of police work, John Betzer has served in many roles in Kansas and Missouri.
    He has fought crime on the streets of Kansas City, Mo., and monitored the halls of some of the largest districts in the state. However, next week he will retire as a small town man, taking off his badge for the last time as Canton’s chief of police.
    “I’ve always enjoyed being a police officer,” he said. “I feel it’s a very necessary and important job that carries a lot of responsibility. It’s something I’m very proud of. I’ve always enjoyed putting on the uniform and serving the public. The old cliché ‘to protect and serve,’ it’s absolutely true.”
    Betzer began working in the police force in 1971 in Kansas City, Mo., where he worked for 20 years. Afterward, he was a school officer for the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission Districts, and also spent time as a private investigator and pharmacy technician.
    “I’ve been exposed to a lot of danger, and thankfully, I can say I came out pretty much unscathed,” he said. “I’ve been in situations where it could have been either way. I’ve been in bad neighborhoods, and it's like going into a war zone each night. It’s some of the worse crime in the city, and they wouldn’t think twice (about shooting).”
    He has not been shot, but Betzer recalls a specific night where he could have been. He was off duty when he heard on the news one of his colleagues had been shot. If Betzer would have been on duty, he would have responded to that call.
    “I look at that and realize it could have been me,” he said.
    Although he had the most experience in large city areas, it was the role of police chief that brought Betzer to the small, quiet town of Canton in 2008.
    “It was tantalizing, the idea of being chief of police and being in charge of a police department,” he said. “It was something I hadn't tried before. I had gone as far as I could go, and felt this might be nice, challenging, exciting and different.”
    Unlike northeast Kansas, Canton has different resources, technology and backup.
    “It’s been very challenging,” he said. “You’re pretty much out here on a one-man island. You learn to deal with that, accept it and work around it, but it’s nice kind of being your own boss and doing things the way you want to do it.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Comparing the cities, he said, is difficult.
    “It’s a whole different deal,” he said. “Being a rural cop as opposed to covering (an 800,000 person) district in Kansas City … the amount of crime, calls and activity was 10 or 20 fold, but the city of Canton and rural areas has its own set of unusual circumstances and personality. You certainly can’t compare it.”
    During his years in the police force, there are many moments Betzer remembers fondly, such as when he helped solve a crime.
    “You find it personally rewarding when you do the investigation and follow your instincts, and because of your training, you’re able to do the best job. Hopefully, the icing on the cake is when you do a good, solid arrest and get a conviction. Any police officer kind of feels that way when you do a good job.”
    As he looks to put down his badge for the last time and leave the community, the police veteran looks back with a good feeling.
    “It’s been a very eventful career, and I’m very proud of my accomplishments,” he said. “I feel I’ve always done the best job I can.
    “It’s a tough profession. You’re always going to have your critics and your supporters, and I’ve had my share of both. But at the end of the day, I’m not perfect, but I’ve always tried to do the best I could, and that’s all you can hope for.”
    Contact Jenae Pauls at jenae.pauls@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentineltwice (about shooting).”
    He has not been shot, but Betzer recalls a specific night where he could have been. He was off duty when he heard on the news one of his colleagues had been shot. If Betzer would have been on duty, he would have responded to that call.
    “I look at that and realize it could have been me,” he said.
    Although he had the most experience in large city areas, it was the role of police chief that brought Betzer to the small, quiet town of Canton in 2008.
    “It was tantalizing, the idea of being chief of police and being in charge of a police department,” he said. “It was something I hadn't tried before. I had gone as far as I could go, and felt this might be nice, challenging, exciting and different.”
    Unlike northeast Kansas, Canton has different resources, technology and backup.
    “It’s been very challenging,” he said. “You’re pretty much out here on a one-man island. You learn to deal with that, accept it and work around it, but it’s nice kind of being your own boss and doing things the way you want to do it.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Comparing the cities, he said, is difficult.
    “It’s a whole different deal,” he said. “Being a rural cop as opposed to covering (an 800,000 person) district in Kansas City … the amount of crime, calls and activity was 10 or 20 fold, but the city of Canton and rural areas has its own set of unusual circumstances and personality. You certainly can’t compare it.”
    During his years in the police force, there are many moments Betzer remembers fondly, such as when he helped solve a crime.
    “You find it personally rewarding when you do the investigation and follow your instincts, and because of your training, you’re able to do the best job. Hopefully, the icing on the cake is when you do a good, solid arrest and get a conviction. Any police officer kind of feels that way when you do a good job.”
    As he looks to put down his badge for the last time and leave the community, the police veteran looks back with a good feeling.
    “It’s been a very eventful career, and I’m very proud of my accomplishments,” he said. “I feel I’ve always done the best job I can.
    “It’s a tough profession. You’re always going to have your critics and your supporters, and I’ve had my share of both. But at the end of the day, I’m not perfect, but I’ve always tried to do the best I could, and that’s all you can hope for.”
    Contact Jenae Pauls at jenae.pauls@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel

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