Trading in their deputy stars

Posted October 12, 2018 at 7:55 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

For three decades Plymouth County Sheriff’s Deputies Paul Betsworth and Craig Bartolozzi have been pinning their star-shaped badges on their uniforms.

But they’re trading in their stars. In fact, Betsworth already traded in his star for a fishing pole and hunting guns. His last day on the job was Sept. 28.

Bartolozzi will trade his star for the badge of a Sioux City federal building security officer as his last day with the sheriff’s office is Oct. 31.

Bartolozzi, who holds the sheriff’s office’s longevity title with 31 years, began his law enforcement career as a part-time Remsen police officer in 1979. From 1980 to 1983, he served as a full-time Marcus police officer, then transferred to the Le Mars Police Department. In 1987, he joined the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, working undercover in drug enforcement with the Tri-State Drug Task Force in Sioux City.

“We had many ventures,” said Bartolozzi who is the sheriff’s Chief Deputy.

In 1990, Betsworth entered law enforcement as a part-time Plymouth County jailer. In 1992, he served as the Hinton police chief, and from 1993 to 1996, Betsworth was the Merrill police chief. He also was a part-time Plymouth County sheriff’s deputy from 1994 to 1996. Then he was hired as a full-time deputy in 1996, and ended as a senior deputy with 28 years in the sheriff’s office.

“It’s just the excitement of law enforcement,” said Bartolozzi about why he entered law enforcement after being a furniture salesman. “It’s something different all the time — never the same thing. “You deal with lots of the same people but different situations.”

“It’s a good satisfaction when you help somebody,“ he said. “When they come up and say ‘Thanks,’ it’s just a good feeling.”

It’s not only the excitement of “everything from the pursuits to investigating different crimes and solving them” — but it’s “helping people out,” said Betsworth, who was an Emergency Medical Technician and considered becoming a paramedic and worked at Dubuque Pack in Le Mars and Plymouth Feeds as well as operated his own welding shop.

“I was the warrant officer,” said Betsworth, “and that’s what I really loved doing — going after warrants, still trying to make a difference in their lives, too.”

The most memorable moments they’ll take with them are the camaraderie, the close brother-like relationships in the sheriff’s office.

“I always knew he had my back,” said Bartolozzi. “I had his. I could always count on him no matter what. Not only in work situations but personal situations, too.”

“Exactly,” said Betsworth.

“We’re a small enough agency that we’re mostly like family,” said Bartolozzi, who fondly remembers the practical jokes the staff plays on each other. Plus, they’ve watched each other’s kids grow up, get married and shared grandchildren stories.

Betsworth and his wife, Christy, have five children and three grandchildren.

Bartolozzi and his wife, Karen, have three children and 10 grandchildren.

They help each other through the tough times — the cases they just can’t forget, too.

For Bartolozzi, it’s five-year-old Timothy Boss of Le Mars killed by his parents and for Betsworth it’s the Hayden family murders where the father killed his wife and children.

“There are several of those cases that ‘Bart’ and I went to over the years,” said Betsworth, “and you just want to try and forget them.”

“The accidents, suicides, kids’ deaths,” said Bartolozzi. “You try to block them out.”

They’ll take a few regrets with them — the cases they were unable to solve.

Bartolozzi would have liked to see the Westfield embezzlement case ending in a conviction but it’ll be after he’s retired.

“Most of our cases have been solved,” said Betsworth, “but there’s always a few out there — burglaries and such — you wish you would have gotten to the bottom of. You just never clear them up.”

“The worst part is you know who did it,” said Bartolozzi. “You just can’t get enough to get them and it happens sometimes.”

“We have a lot of good people here in the department,” said Bartolozzi. “You’ll miss those people that you just have a lot of fun with, sitting around and talking, golfing. Anything you used to do together, you’ll miss.”

“The friendships,” agreed Betsworth.

“I served many years on the Iowa Sheriffs & Deputies Association,” said Bartolozzi, “and over those years I had the opportunity to visit a lot of sheriff’s offices across Iowa. By far, we have one of the best sheriff’s offices in the state.”

“All of our people are geared to respecting and helping our county residents,” he said, “and doing a good job for them.”

“People are good in this county,” said Bartolozzi, adding working with other groups and churches in the county, there has always been great people to work with and do things with. “They always accepted me and what I did. Always made my job easier.”

“People should be proud of law enforcement throughout the county,” said Betsworth. “Through all the towns — ambulance, fire departments. They are all good people who do it out of the goodness of their hearts.”

“They’re dedicated,” said Bartolozzi.

“All emergency personnel, the county’s lucky to have such a great group,” said Betsworth.

When Bartolozzi started, the sheriff’s office was five deputies, four dispatchers and the sheriff. The deputies also served as the jailers. Today, there are 11 full-time jailers, six part-time jailers, three cooks, six full-time dispatchers, and 12 deputies.

Everything was written on paper when Betsworth started — accident reports and ticket citations. Now it’s all done on computer.

“We have iPhones and computers,” said Bartolozzi. “I don’t know how to operate them half the time.”

Why retire now?

“Some of it’s my age,” said Bartolozzi who is 63 — it’s mandatory to retire at 65 in law enforcement.”I’m in pretty good health yet and a good job opportunity came along. I didn’t want to try to run for sheriff at my age so I took the opportunity that presented itself.”

“It’s the perfect time for me,” said Betsworth. “It’s time to get out and do the things I enjoy while I’m still healthy. Do the things I want to do. Enjoy life.”

“Most cops don’t make it anywhere 30 years,” he added.

“I’d like to thank the people of Plymouth County for allowing me to work for them this many years,” said Bartolozzi. “It’s been an honor to do what I did and I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Betsworth agreed saying, “Thanks for the opportunity to serve the county.”