St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch retires

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- On Friday, January 31, 2014 St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch retires after a 34 year career in law enforcement. That same day, the St. Louis County Police Board meets in closed session to select his replacement.

Fitch was 18-years-old when he started his police career at Cahokia Police Department. He served three years there before moving to the St. Louis County Department. He tells me becoming a police chief was not his goal. He wanted to be like the old TV show, Adam 12, running on calls, arresting bad guys and taking care of the good people in the community. He loved the variety, putting on his uniform everyday was as close to a routine as he had.

Fitch recalls when he started out, they didn't have tasers and pepper spray and laptop computers. Now, he says the patrol cars cost less than the sophisticated equipment that is in them.

Fitch rose through the ranks and was named Chief of Police in 2009. He says the role of chief is different in that community issues and politics take a lot of your time. He had some well-publicized battles over the use of speed cameras which he considers a money grab and contracts for work on the new county police crime lab.

The chief is stepping down to become a consultant for the security industry and law enforcement industry, working with some national police organizations on consolidation of services.

He says he proudest of the dedicated people he works with who have managed to reduce the crime rate dramatically while getting little in the way of raises. He will miss them the most and regrets not being able to get them more money. And he'll miss putting on the uniform every day.

Fitch adds he'll always be haunted by the child deaths he's had to investigate, like the murders of Cassidy Senter and Angie Housman in 1993.

His job has given him a chance to travel this country and abroad, taking him from Israel where he worked with the Israeli police to New York where he did an assessment of the NYPD. He won't miss the circus he says, but he will miss the clowns as he affectionally calls the people he's worked with everyday.

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  • ByeByeToTheRite

    So, he’s worked 34 years! Wow! Almost 5 whole years as chief! And he’s retiring on the taxpayer dime at 52-years-old, while still collecting more government handouts in his new role as “consultant” for law enforcement.

    So, let’s see, worked 34 years, if he lives to be just 80 that will be 28 years of lifetime taxpayer-paid pension and health care benefits. 28 years of welfare for 34 years of work – and many folks still think poor people on welfare is our biggest drain on our tax dollar? Think again, if you can still think.

    The “welfare problem” in America is a serious problem, alright.

  • J. Byrne, Lieutenant of Police and former SLCPD Explorer

    Dear “ByeByeToTheRite,”

    First, I’m hoping that you’re a troll who is simply trying to stir the pot for emotional reactions. I don’t understand the motivation behind such an act, if that is what you have done here, but I will happily indulge you with a reaction that is full of fire and brimstone.

    I won’t address the erroneous conclusions you have drawn from either an economic or political standpoint (I have degrees in both fields), but I can assure you that contributing to the workforce and tax base for 34 years before collecting earned benefits is nowhere near as detrimental to the American economy as the growing class of citizens living their lives on a buffet of entitlements and subsidy programs. That is a discussion for another day.

    Instead, I will limit this response to your overall premise: that Chief Fitch is undeserving of his pension based on an insufficient service tenure or age, or because he chooses to retire from one job (according to prescribed rules) and take employment in another while he is still healthy, willing, and relevant.

    It likely appalls you that a man is willing to not only work one full career, but then is willing to keep working to provide for his family and serve his community. What a diabolical scheme he has concocted to cheat the system!

    It is my sincere belief that you have never served a day in uniform, be it one of law enforcement, the military, or the Boy Scouts. Hell, I bet you’ve never served anyone but yourself, so you likely don’t understand the concepts of sacrifice and altruism.

    You can not begin to understand the stresses that one would endure over the course of 34 years in policing, let alone spending five of those years saddled with the ultimate responsibility for the welfare and effectiveness of more than 1,000 public servants.

    You have no idea, I’m betting, what it means for a police chief to be torn between the desire to monetarily reward those who put their lives on the line at your command, and the obligation to be a steward of every public dollar in your budget. Nor do you comprehend the difficulty or disappointment you feel when a trusted advisor and friend has to be terminated because one bad decision overshadows the rest of his or her career. Likewise, you have no frame of reference by which to measure the feeling of telling a homicide victim’s family that your detectives are doing all they can, knowing full well that “all they can” means that all leads have been exhausted without bringing them any closer to justice.

    And you will never know the pain of telling a mother that her son, who was entrusted to you as an officer, has died in the line of duty.

    You can’t imagine the stress placed on a young wife and children when their officer can’t attend holiday gatherings because he is working extended shifts to address seasonal crime trends. Or perhaps Hubby must sleep his days away, making his wife feel like a single mother, so that he can be rested for the midnight shift. Or maybe Daddy just has an unexplainable edge to him, a chip on his shoulder, because he’s fighting back tears and a primal scream that seem like the only ways to vent his soul of the evils that he has seen in the course of his work.

    You are a simple man, no doubt. You choose to bark and rant about a financial reward that a man earned doing an honorable job, and doing it well. He did not steal the money you complain about. He is receiving his just compensation (or unjust, if you consider even for a moment that he’s probably worth more than he has been paid over his career). And it has been sanctioned by the democratically-elected representatives that you – and your fellow citizens – have chosen.

    If you don’t like this system, blame the men and women who make the rules – not those who risk their lives to enforce them. And, for the love of God, don’t you dare to point the finger of blame at a good and decent man like Tim Fitch.

    I knew Chief Fitch (he was Tim back then) in the mid-1990s when I served as an Explorer in the St. Louis County Police Department. He likely has forgotten me many times over, but he and the others with whom I worked motivated and inspired me to follow their career paths.

    Chief Fitch has done nothing, I’m guessing, to earn your personal ire, and I would be willing to bet that you’d tuck your tail like an abused dog if you were given the opportunity to voice your concerns to him face-to-face. Not that he’s an intimidating or violent man; quite the contrary, in fact. I’m just concluding that you’re a cowardly shell of a man who wouldn’t know how to deal with a man of service, leadership, or integrity. In other words, you’d have nothing to say to a man like Chief Fitch.

    I pray that God keeps safe Chief Fitch, Chief Belmar (who I also knew and respected), and all of the men and women of the St. Louis County Police Department. And, my friend, I pray that He does the same for you, because that’s what cops like me do. We have every desire, and make every effort, to protect and watch over all of the citizens we have sworn to serve. No matter how big of a dumbass one of them might be.

    Sleep well tonight, “ByeByeToTheRite.” There are officers standing between you and evil so that you can concentrate on espousing your ridiculous point of view again tomorrow.

    Please reply if you need help with any of the big words.

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