State FOP gives award to Chillicothe officer

Marianne Gillespie
Sgt. Nick Bridges poses for a photo with Gov. Pat Quinn in Springfield July 25 after receiving the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police's leadership award.

Chillicothe’s K-9 officer received a state award for his leadership in community activities.

Sgt. Nick Bridges, who began with the Chillicothe Police Department in 2008, received the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police’s leadership award July 25 at its 27th Biennial Conference in Springfield. Only one officer is awarded in the state.

The award honors an FOP member whose leadership has inspired others, brought positive change or successfully organized a group or event that made a difference within the community.

Bridges, who is the Chillicothe Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 247’s president, spearheaded three events in recent years for the betterment of the community.

Fellow Officer Doug Hahn nominated Bridges for the award.

“When I was made aware of the award, the first person I thought of was Sgt. Bridges,” Hahn said. “Many times people just come up with ideas to help someone, but he did something about it. He is an excellent officer who has gone above and beyond to help Chillicothe.

“As the president of the FOP lodge, he has started and organized the Matt Adams Memorial Wiffle Ball tourney, Cops and Kids, and Cuffs for the Cure. He is a true leader, and well deserving of the Illinois FOP Leadership Award.”

The first event touched the department deeply as dispatcher Matt Adams took his own life in 2012. The officers then began to raise funds for Whitney’s Walk, which is held annually in July and supports suicide prevention and depression awareness.

To raise funds for the cause, the Chillicothe Wiffle Tournament was born a few months later. In the last three years, around a dozen teams and 60 players get together annually to raise the funds. About $12,000 has been donated to the cause, Bridges said.

In 2013, though, the fundraising effort did not stop there. The officers went pink for Cuffs for a Cure in October to raise almost $4,000. While they wore special shirts for the cause, residents were mock “arrested” for the cause, raising funds for their bail.

To cap off 2013, the officers shopped at ALCO with local children for Christmas presents and ate lunch with them. Businesses donated to help the effort and the union also pitched in some of its funds. 

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized for working hard and giving back,” Bridges said. “The only way I could have won the award was to be surrounded by good people with the same goals.”

Within the Chillicothe community on Saturday, he also was surrounded as a Chillicothe-to-Peoria St. Jude runner for the first time.