The Director of the Office of Public Safety at Western Illinois University will soon have more time to spend with his family and on his motorcycle.
Robert Fitzgerald will retire from his position as OPS director on March 31. He said there comes an age and a time when things must be turned over to the younger people.
“After 40 years in law enforcement … I have no regrets,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a good time for me financially and in my career for me to leave.”
Fitzgerald was charge of public safety at WIU for 15 years.
“I’ve enjoying working with the administration here on campus,” he said. “It’s been very beneficial to me.”
Before coming to WIU, Fitzgerald spent 23 years as an officer with the Macomb Police Department. He started as a patrol officer and retired as a lieutenant.
“I spent time on the streets and worked evenings,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a good time. It worked out very well for my family because when I patrolled in the city I was able to take breaks for dinner.”
He said working on a campus posed some different challenges than working for the city
"We have a student judicial program. Instead of arresting someone we can refer them for alcohol violations and minor drug violations.”
Fitzgerald said he expects quite a bit from his OPS officers. He asks them to provide greater detail when writing reports, and most of the officers do their own follow-up investigations.
He said one of the biggest challenges facing law enforcement today concerns budget issues.
“Things get worn out and need to be replaced and there’s just no money to do that,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s going to be a big challenge for the next director here.”
Fitzgerald said he’s happy with how he’s leaving the department. He said OPS has a good staff and the university should be proud of that.
This story was written by reporter Tristen Johnson