Retiring officer gets surprise on last day

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Most of us know the other name for a donkey. An Urbana police officer is accused of using that word a lot but only as his own version of a term of endearment, not in a mean way. So on his last day of work, the department brought a donkey and parked it in his parking spot.

Deputy Chief Robert Fitzgerald retired from the Urbana Police Department. He’s been with the department for over two decades and while he’s known for using that word often, he’s done a lot more than just that.

After a 33 year long career and 22 years in Urbana, Robert Fitzgerald has cleaned out his office and turned off his radio.

“I think Monday morning it’ll hit me when I’m supposed to be up here at 8 am,” Robert Fitzgerald says.

For the people that have worked with him, his departure might be harder on them.

“Every time he tells me bye I almost want to cry. so I’m like Bob so we’re going to have to set up little prearranged dates to go to Riggs and have something cold kids don’t need,” Preston James says.

Fitzgerald has had a career filled with changes. Starting with his move from Chicago to Urbana.

“One day I was making an arrest for homicide and the next day I was writing a parking ticket in downtown Urbana,” Fitzgerald explains.

Changes to the communities he served. He started a bike giveaway and neighborhood watch programs. The difference he’s made in the lives of the people he’s worked with is more than he even knows.

“When I got to the department in 05. Mater of fact, my first ride along on valentines day of 2005 Bob was the first officer I met,” James says. “He made me feel at home and ever since that day, he’s made me feel the same way for the past 14 years like I’m at home.”

More changes as he closes the door on this chapter of his life.

“My whole adult life since I was 21 years old I’ve been a police officer,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s going to be a strange feeling. I love it here I love the people here.”

Friday may have been his last day on staff but he doesn’t plan to stay away for long. Next week he’ll be coming back to help write a grant.

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