Mayor Tim Solomon will ask City Council tonight to ratify his appointment of Kirk Fitch of Maricopa, Ariz., as Havre police chief.
Fitch officially retired Thursday as deputy chief in Maricopa, a fast-growing city about 30 miles south of Phoenix.
Fitch was a founding member of the police department in the city, which grew in population from 1,400 in 2000 to about 37,000 people now.
Prior to taking the Maricopa job, he was a Phoenix police officer, where he received the city's Medal of Valor. He won the commendation after he was shot while conducting an investigation. He was taken to the hospital, treated and then returned to the scene to help with the investigation, according to Maricopa360.com, a news website that serves the area.
Solomon said between 25 and 30 people applied for the position. Members of the city's police commission helped review the applications, he said. The three finalists were interviewed in person.
Solomon said he was "impressed with (Fitch’s) attitude."
"He is very well qualified," the mayor said.
Fitch also won the approval of City Councilwoman Pam Hillery, who said she expected he would win approval from the council.
"I was so impressed with him," Hillery said.
She said she was skeptical because she respects Acting Police Chief Gabe Matosich, who grew up with her husband, Paul Tuss, in Anaconda.
But after talking to Fitch, "I'm convinced he can do so much for this community."
Fitch has a daughter living in Havre, he said, thus he was interested in moving to this area.
The appointment is not intended to be a slight to Matosich, who has headed the Havre department since Jerry Nystrom departed earlier this year, Solomon said.
"We visited with Gabe, and he's looking forward to being part of his team," the mayor said.
Solomon said he has the authority to make the appointment, and City Council has the authority to ratify the appointment.
Fitch has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Ohio State University and a master's degree in education from Northern Arizona University. He is a graduate of Drug Enforcement Agency's Commander's Academy.
Solomon said the chief's salary will be about $58,000.