When the Chillicothe Police &?Fire Commission interviewed a young Dean Baize, they asked him what he wanted to do.

“Put in 20 and retire here,”?Baize recalled he told them. “I kept my word.”

Now at 56 years old, Baize did a little better than that, retiring Friday with more than 21 years of service.

When the Chillicothe Police &?Fire Commission interviewed a young Dean Baize, they asked him what he wanted to do.

“Put in 20 and retire here,”?Baize recalled he told them. “I kept my word.”

Now at 56 years old, Baize did a little better than that, retiring Friday with more than 21 years of service.

“Dean will be missed,” said Chillicothe Police Chief Steve Maurer. “He was a very good friend and very good police officer. He was good with people. He will always be a part of our family.”

Hailing from Shelbyville, Ind., Baize did not stay in one place very long as his father was a Salvation Army minister. They lived in Chicago, Canton, DeKalb, East Chicago,?Ind., and a couple more locations he was too young to remember.

Police work was not on his radar.

He graduated from DeKalb High a half year early to go into the military. His father also served the country in the Army Air Corps.

Originally, he wanted to do security for missiles and planes in the Air Force, but ended up doing pararescue from 1971 to 1977.

Once he was honorably discharged, he worked a number of jobs including siding, foundry, forge, construction and even delivering appliances.

“Nothing was satisfying,” said Baize.

In 1980, he joined the Lacon Police Department, and “the rest is history,” he said.

Moving to a bigger city, Baize joined the Chillicothe Police Department March 3, 1989.

More than 21 years later, Baize said the difference between then and now is, “I know everybody now.”

“You really can’t do your job unless you know everyone — good, bad, middle of the road.”

Armed with that knowledge, Baize would talk to residents having a problem, or maybe just having a bad day. If officers know the person, they can save a situation from being disastrous, he said.

“If you take the time to get to know the people you can always help.”

After suffering a heart attack during Summer Camp in May 2009, Baize rejoined the department a few months later after recuperating from multiple-bypass surgery. He noted he still arrested the man he was after while having a heart attack.

Proving to himself, and possibly others, that he was still at the top of his game, Baize said now is the right time for retirement.

“I’m still able to dance with the best of them and do my job,” he said.

The calls

There are not any calls, Baize said, that are easy or are his favorite.

“Any given call can go south.”

The worst calls he received usually involved children.

“Those still bug me.”

While situations with children are imprinted on his mind, his “best day” on the job came while holding a child.

He received a call a few years ago of a baby who was choking and non-responsive. Baize recognized the baby was turning blue as he arrived on scene.

His first thoughts were, “Give me the kid,” he recalled.

He cradled the week-old baby between his elbow and his hand and gave two little puffs of air to the infant’s mouth.

The baby began crying and he handed the infant to Rescue 33 for transport.

“Everything turned out fine.”

While some calls have a happy ending, other calls officers know will not have the same outcome.

Baize has seen his share of crime scenes from murders to child abuse.

But one day was especially brutal — July 2, 2006, the day the police department lost one of its own, police officer Rob Freeburg, by his own hand.

Officers were hardly finished at that scene before they were called to the river. A woman on a personal watercraft had crashed near the Spring Bay side of the Illinois River, but she was brought to the Chillicothe shore to be transported to

Three Sisters Park for Life Flight.

She later died at OSF?Saint Francis Medical Center.

“That was a bad, bad day,”?Baize said quietly.

To cope with the bad days and the bad calls, Baize’s coping mechanism is hearing his daughters’ voices and what they were doing.

“When things went south or took a s***, I’d call the girls.”

Department needs

When asked about what the Chillicothe Police Department needs, in his estimation, Baize rattled off more people, including a detective, newer computers and software and to send officers for schooling that benefits the department and citizens.

For at least the last 15 years, he said, he was the field training officer, training everyone but Sgt. Rich Mark. He also serves as the department’s range master, making sure his fellow officers qualify their guns once a year.

One newer piece of equipment, Baize said, “makes a big difference” — the Taser.

“In all the years I’ve been a police officer, that is the best invention. That is the best piece of equipment that the city of Chillicothe has ever bought. It gives you that extra option.”

Seeing him around

Just because Baize is retiring from the police department does not mean he will not be working.

He begins a new security job for OSF?Saint Francis Medical Center at the end of this month.

In the few spare minutes he has for hobbies, Baize likes to hunt and fish.

He also still sings in his church’s choir, and his girls sing in the HOI Choir. If he has time, he may join the barbershop choir.

Always one for the theatrics, Baize portrayed the masked Chillicothe hero in 2000 — Millennium Man.

He was unveiled at the New Year’s Eve event on Dec. 31, 1999, and was seen at a variety of events throughout the year.

His identity was eventually revealed.

Baize also assists Santa Claus during the Christmas season at Three Sisters Park.

Residents still will see him occasionally around town, mainly during festivals, as he will remain a part-time officer.   

What will he miss about his work with the Chillicothe Police Department?

“You can’t be a cop for 31 years and not miss it all,” said Baize. “Everything comes to a full circle.”

And he holds Chillicothe in high esteem.

“There’s just a hell of a lot of good people. Chillicothe is a good town.”