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The Chillicothe Voice

Gosh, Dark, and Protectors of the Night — Badge 504 —

Jun 30, 2023 11:40AM ● By Gary Sharp
In the absence of daylight, very few of us give much thought to those who provide a measure of safety during the hours when we are most vulnerable. The story you are about to read is true, only a few names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Winter 2021, plus two degrees Fahrenheit, 3am, in a sleepy little town, somewhere in central Illinois—Lilly heard a faint scratching noise from their front door as she left the bathroom. She froze and watched in terror at a small light and a large figure looming through the glass panes of the door’s upper half. Ben heard Lilly’s quivering voice call his name and he rose from a warm bed. He saw her face near a dim night light as she pointed to the sound. Six feet from Ben was his fully loaded pistol in a drawer but instead, the 75-year-old eased his way slowly to the door. Lilly whispered, no Ben no!  As the two deadbolt locks held firmly, he doubled up his fists and pounded hard five times on the door interior and the stranger let out a blood-curdling scream, bolted from the deck, into the deep snow, and ran across the yard howling as if he’d been scalded by hot water. Ben said, “Lil call the police.” In less than four minutes, two cruisers trapped the man half a block away and had him in custody. A sigh of relief came from Ben and a satisfied smile crossed his face, as he remarked, “Good job guys.”  

On New Year’s Eve, in 1982, a son was born in Peoria, to Jim and Chris Bridges, who to this date has patrolled the streets of Chillicothe for some 15 years as a canine officer and works 40 to 50 hours a week between the hours of 10pm and 8am.

With his younger brother Jacob, he attended Woodrow Wilson and St. Mark’s Grade School and graduated from Brimfield High in 2001. He earned an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement at ICC and another in Business Administration from Eastern Gateway College as well as completing cadet training at the Police Training Institute in Champaign in 2008. He married his love Brittany, a Princeton girl, on June 7, 2008 and they have 2 daughters—Brooklynn 11 and Emma 9. Nick, for many years, has been involved in numerous Chillicothe community activities. He helps set up the Jeep Rendezvous events each year and Cops for Kids Christmas involving kids in need or illness which have generated over forty thousand dollars in 10 years from donations of businesses and industries. He helped start IVC Leadership Scholarships directed by officers’ efforts. He’s proud of Cops for Kids, which directly affects some 350 kids’ lives. He also volunteers his coaching for youth Softball, T-Ball, and Soccer.

Raised by hard-working parents with a never give up attitude, Nick says he likes to inspire positive impacts in people’s lives. In his 15-year career, he has worked successfully with two German Shepherd Police Dogs. The first was Gosh, whom he partnered with for three and a half years and the second is Dark, his current sidekick of eight years. The capability and value of these canines are quite remarkable. Gosh and Dark are credited with many thousands of dollars in drug seizures and adaptable tracking specialties. Nick is one of the forces of the protectors of the night who occupy the streets checking businesses and properties all over town. We are fortunate to have them out there watching our concerns, if you don’t agree, just ask Ben and Lilly.

The caliber and body of work Nick has displayed, as a first responder during his 15-year career, should be recognized and appreciated by our citizenry. There have been and always will be Hometown Heroes in Chillicothe of different walks, occupations, and stature and now Sergeant Nick Bridges of the Chillicothe Police Force joins those ranks.

Thank you for your service, Nick