Kirk Fitch’s time as Havre police chief was short, but its impact was great.
Fitch announced Monday he was retiring at the end of the month after spending a little less than two years in office.
When he assumed office, the police department was at a low ebb. Morale was low, and there was a revolving door of officers in and out of the department.
There was apprehension by the public. Many suspected, with some reason, that the department played favorites. The previous chief was under investigation for his part in a barroom brawl.
Many questioned Mayor Tim Solomon’s decision to go out of town to get a new chief, but few question it today.
Under Fitch’s leadership, police officers are on the street more often. They play an active role in the community. Fitch has been available to the public. A community relations position was created.
Under an arrangement worked out with Havre Public Schools and Montana State University-Northern, an officer patrols both campuses, making class presentations and interacting with students before there is a crisis.
Fitch and his staff started Havre’s first National Night Out program. Several hundred people attended the event at Northern. Children got an opportunity to sit in a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter and pretend to be flying it. The truth be told, many adults enjoyed that too.
All area police departments took part, and they showed people what they do on a day-to-day basis. People had a good time and learned a lot. For young people, the fear of interaction with police was lessened.
To Fitch, we offer the best of times and the best of health.
We hope his successor continues many of his successes.