Longtime O'Fallon police chief dies after battle with cancer

News-DemocratSeptember 22, 2013 

Longtime O'Fallon Police Chief John Betten passed away at his home Sunday.

The chief had been battling cancer for fours years but retained his position as chief and continued serving the city without fail.

"He was a consummate professional and he cared about the Police Department and about the community," said O'Fallon city administrator Walter Denton. "We had total confidence in him as our director of public safety. We're just distraught that this happened and we are praying for his family."

Betten served as police chief for more than 10 years.

"John was a tremendous police officer and leader and he led the state-wide association a few years ago," said O'Fallon Mayor Gary Graham. "He was an amazing man who battled cancer for four years. If you didn't know, he certainly didn't show any of the signs of cancer. He never complained and he still came in to the office a few days a week. He knew the prognosis, but he was thankful for the time he had with his family. He had two concerns: His family and the city, and we told him we would do whatever he needed done. It's pretty amazing, someone with stage four cancer was coming into the office and never complained. That tells you what kind of guy he was. He was a great guy and he will be missed. It is a sad day, but we're happy John isn't suffering any more."

O'Fallon Ward 4 Councilman Jerry Mouser said when the cancer started affecting Betten's mobility, it never affected the sharpness of his mind.

"It's a terrible shame," Mouser said. "He was a wonderful police chief. He was a really nice guy. He had a lot of really good ideas. We did crime-free housing under him, we did a lot of good things for the community under his direction and he did a really good job. He brought a lot of talent, he brought a lot of innovative things with him to the police force. I don't know how we are going to replace him. You never found anybody who didn't speak highly of John Betten. It's a great loss to the city and a sad day."

Ward 2 Councilman Ed True said he worked with Betten when he worked with the Fairview Heights Police Department before he became chief in O'Fallon and found him a very easy, pleasant person to work with.

"It is a very sad day today," True said. "He was a very caring, very compassionate individual. He was a great chief and everybody was impressed with his wealth of knowledge and his compassion. He seemed to be very perceptive in what the city needed to do in certain areas of crime and what needed to be done for the citizens of O'Fallon to make them safer. He will be missed."

Before Betten was appointed as chief in O'Fallon, he served with the Fairview Heights Police Department for 18 years. He was a member of the Southern Illinois Chiefs of Police.

Funeral arrangements for Betten are pending.

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