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New chief already making changes


Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

Havre Police Department Chief Kirk Fitch poses for a photograph on his first day on the job Wednesday afternoon. Fitch was sworn in as the new police chief Tuesday during a Havre City Council meeting.

There's a new law man in town, Havre's new Police Chief Kirk Fitch, who may have brought some weather with him from his last post in Maricopa, Ariz.

Fitch was sworn in at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, ending a six-month search for the new chief.

But how did he get here? What will he bring to Havre? And what is he planning for his tenure?

Fitch said on Thursday afternoon that he was born and raised in New Jersey.

After attending Ohio State University, Fitch joined the U. S. Army, where he moved all over and got his first exposure to Arizona, living in the Yuma area.

When he left the Army, he returned to New Jersey and got his first taste of law enforcement in the Cardwell Police Department.

In the mid-1980s, Fitch decided that he couldn't afford to support his wife and newborn child in the expanding sprawl surrounding New York City, so he went back to Arizona.

He spent years working for the Phoenix Police Department, patrolling and gaining experience as a street-beat cop until he "eventually knew it was time for the next step" into management.

In October 2006, he joined an old friend from the Phoenix department who was made chief of Maricopa, a rapidly growing town a half-hour south of Phoenix.

Fitch and the chief were tasked with building the Maricopa Police Department from the ground up, an experience Fitch says taught him a lot about every aspect of law enforcement, from budgeting and training officers to "designing the patch and badge. "

Over five years, the department went from existing hypothetically to employing more than 60 staff "not including dispatch. "

He also went back to school, to Northwestern University's police management program.

Bringing a diverse mix of big-city patrolling, small town department development and his academic pursuits, Fitch is ready to take the reins in Havre and already has a few ideas, less than 48 hours after swearing in.

The department's scheduling has already been converted to a 12-hour shift system that Fitch has seen work well in his past departments.

He is also hoping to publicize a new policy concerning missing or abducted children in the next month.

Those policy changes are just the first of the department's operating orders that Fitch hopes to revise.

"I think we are going to review that section by section, " Fitch said.

He also wants to improve the department's website, to allow people to report incidents online.

With all of this after just a few days, Fitch appears to have been pretty busy, but that's how he likes it.

"I'm happy to be here, " Fitch said.

"It's been hectic, but I enjoy being busy. "


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