Posted Online: Nov. 08, 2012, 7:08 pm

Milan's retiring top cop ready for new challenge

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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

Photo: Nicole Harris
Former Milan Police Chief Mark Beckwith
Who knew Mike Beckwith's little brother -- the little kid we used to ditch at the ballpark -- would dedicate 28 years to law enforcement, grow to be a police chief and command respect everywhere for his work?

Mark Beckwith, the aforementioned little brother, hoped he would.And he did.

"Other than being a husband and a father, this was all I ever wanted to do,'' Milan Police Chief Beckwith said of his top-notch career in law enforcement.

Today, the 50-year-old Rock Island native will retire from his post as Milan's top cop, a job he has held since 2003.

"Things have changed in our field, but it's always been about serving the people, getting to know your community and being the best person you can be," he said.

Come Monday, Chief Beckwith will join Augustana College as assistant chief of security. He will be responsible for such areas as training and emergency preparedness.

"What a great place, Augustana,'' Chief Beckwith said during a sit-down at the gorgeous Milan Municipal Building. "I spent a lot of time on that campus as a kid, and now I get a chance to go back. What a great staff to be a part of at a special, special place.''

An open house is planned today to wish Chief Beckwith good luck in his new career. FBI Academy friends from as far away as North Carolina will pay their respects. It will be a bittersweet shift for the outgoing chief, who has spent his entire 28-year career in Milan.

"I've held every job you can have within this department, and it's been a blast,'' he said. "Seriously, our agency gets along and works well together. The people of this community love their town and have always been appreciative of the job we have done. They also have great insight, and that has allowed us to better the way we serve."

Of his 28 years with Milan, 17 were spent working nights, weekends and holidays. As chief, Mr. Beckwith was never really "off'' duty. Now, though, he will have more time to spend with his family.

"I'm a father to two and grandfather -- and they call me Papa -- to two,'' Chief Beckwith said. "My wife, Carrie, is my rock, my foundation, and has always been there. Any time I needed to be away -- no matter the situation -- she gave me the nod to go ahead and go. Now we can go and do some things together, spend time with our kids, and spoil the grandkids like all grandparents do.''

Today's open house for Chief Beckwith will conclude at 4 p.m. He knows it will be an emotional time, but also that a plan is in place to help Milan move forward.

"There are so many great people in place -- things will be fine,'' he said. "I'll miss a lot about the job. I'll miss the people in our agency and much of our community. Yes, it will get emotional because I'm grateful for so many people. But there's a pretty neat challenge ahead.''

A challenge Mark Beckwith will no doubt meet.





Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.