BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - "I absolutely love this. There is no doubt about it. Bessemer has been wonderful to me," said Police Chief Nathaniel Rutledge, Jr.
The longtime law enforcement officer is saying goodbye.
"It's been great to be here and serve and to be a part of this wonderful community but now it has become of time to go," said Rutledge.
It's a career that started 30 years ago and brought him to multiple agencies. From the Lee County Sheriff's Office while still a student at Auburn University to Jefferson County, Fairfield and Bessemer.
Getting here as chief was unexpected. The call came while on the road leading a football team to a playoff game.
"I got the football team to a restaurant for dinner and I asked the owner of the restaurant if I could borrow the typewriter. I went to the back of the restaurant and I typed out a resume then I used their fax. They had to turn off the telephone service so we could use the fax and I faxed that back to Bessemer," he recalled.
That was in 2003 and from there he's hit the ground running. He recalled one of his first experiences not even a month on the job.
"He said, 'hey, you're our new chief, right,' Rutledge said. I said 'yes,' then he said, 'Well, our computers are not working. All communication to dispatch down. All of our trucks defeated. We are running on a generator that seems like it's about to go out and there is no other communication throughout the city what do you want to do,'"
Leaving, he's most proud of the stronger community–police relations that have been established.
"There had become a divide the police didn't really talk to citizens. The citizens didn't readily talk to police and something had to change about that. I'm a very public person so I'm a leave them being out in the public," he said.
So, what's next?
"We are going to do some work federally. I'm waiting to be able to announce officially what that is but I am looking forward to it. It's a part of a lifetime dream to be able to do some things that I've always wanted to do," said Rutledge.
He will continue to serve as an instructor at local colleges. He also has an opportunity to be for an upcoming professorship through an endowment.
His last day as chief is Sept. 1.