Bartz retires from police department

DICKINSON - Law enforcement may seem like a terribly unrewarding profession, and the Dickinson Police Department's former Sgt. Rick Bartz is the first to admit at times it can be. Law enforcement also, however, brought Bartz satisfaction for 32 y...

DICKINSON - Law enforcement may seem like a terribly unrewarding profession, and the Dickinson Police Department's former Sgt. Rick Bartz is the first to admit at times it can be. Law enforcement also, however, brought Bartz satisfaction for 32 years.

He retired on Jan. 30, 2008, following 28 years of service to the Dickinson community.

"Once you get into it, it grabs you, you know. It sucks you in," Bartz said.

He added many individuals are simply not cut out for the demands a law enforcement career puts on a person.

"You're not going to get rich at this job and people are not going to congratulate you, so it's all pretty much for personal satisfaction," Bartz said.


The ability to help members of the community and knowing he was doing the best he could was what brought the most joy to his career.

"It's a brotherhood," Bartz said.

The public was one of Bartz's biggest obstacles throughout his career.

"This is the only business I know of where if you please 50 percent of your customers you're doing a good job," Bartz said. "You can't make everybody happy, that's probably the biggest lesson I learned."

With all the experiences Bartz has lived through, he wishes he would have kept a journal to document his career.

"I tell young guys to keep a journal. It can be funny...and it can be terrifying," Bartz said. "You find humor in the oddest things, but you have to. This business is so serious."

One of the more frightening periods of Bartz's career was when he was detective corporal for the department.

"The first oil boom was real interesting. In one year we had 10 (homicides)," Bartz said. "It slowed down after that."


Bartz has taken part in about 15 homicide investigations.

"I did the evidence, photography and search warrants on a lot of these. I was more of the technical guy," Bartz said. "I've seen quite a bit, but I haven't seen everything. Not too much surprises you anymore."

While he was detective corporal, Bartz went through two weeks of FBI training for photography in Quantico, Va.

In May 1990, Bartz was promoted to sergeant and field supervisor. He said his previous position is no longer available.

"Jackie Martin and I were the last detective corporals," Bartz said.

Law enforcement has gone through dramatic transformations since Bartz began his career. Not only has technology improved drastically since Bartz's first assignment, but training requirements have as well. Unlike current academic training, which lasts 11 weeks, Bartz was only required to train for five weeks.

When Bartz took on his first assignment as deputy sheriff of Golden Valley County in 1975, the Sheriff's Department had a peculiar job requirement.

"You had to provide your own car. They provided a light bar and a radio" Bartz said. "You got paid mileage, which basically paid for the maintenance of the car, the gas and maybe the insurance, but you ended up paying for the car."


He said this practice was a common procedure for law enforcement officials in the 1970s. Although police cruisers were preferred, officers were not required to purchase any specific type of vehicle, which resulted in a variety of multicolored law enforcement cars.

"We had Chevy's, Fords, Pontiacs, you know, and they were all different colors. You pretty much just had to have a four-door car," Bartz said. "You didn't have any cages in them and you had to drill holes in the fenders for the big old antennas,"

The light bar, radio and other necessities were provided to officers.

Bartz attended college at North Dakota State University and Dawson College in Glendive, Mont. He majored in history but entered the Police Academy because "I needed a real job."

In January 1979, Bartz joined the Beach Police Department, where he was appointed chief of police. He married his wife Linda (McDanold) about a month later.

Although his career was quite demanding, Bartz said Linda always supported him. He said the fact he was an officer before they were married helped her to accept his responsibilities.

"It makes a big difference when you know what you're getting into," Bartz said.

Bartz transferred to the Dickinson Police Department in January 1980. A little over a year later, his daughter Meghan was born. His son Erich was born in 1984.


Bartz's job provided him with an opportunity to do background checks on his children's friends when they entered their teenage years.

"You better believe every cop I know will check their daughter's boyfriends through NCIC (National Crime Information Center)," Bartz said.

Along with his full-time career, Bartz has been doing farm work near Harvey in his spare time.

"I've been running the family farm since my dad passed away in 2001," Bartz said. "My vacation time was spent at the farm."

Now that he is retired, Bartz plans to work even more at the family farm. He also hopes to be able to spend some time on hobbies.

"I ride motorcycles, I'm a pilot, I hunt - I enjoy all kinds of stuff," Bartz said.

Although he is retired, Bartz plans to continue working.

"I plan to get a part-time job somewhere," Bartz said. "In a couple years or so we'll probably move out to the farm."


For right now, though, Bartz said he is content with simply indulging in some extra sleep.

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