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New Marion police chief eases into the job

MARION (WSIL) — The new Marion Police Chief says he’s settling into the job well and starting to chart out his goals for the long haul.

Marion’s mayor appointed David Fitts to the position last month. He officially started last week. Fitts retired from law enforcement five years ago and just couldn’t get used to his new lifestyle.

"I tried to do what everybody says they’re going to do, so for the first few months, I did nothing, and I about lost my mind because I was getting pretty bored," Fitts said. "I think I was probably starting to wear on my wife’s last nerve, a little bit."

After some time working for a company that makes uniforms for first responders, Fitts took over as Marion’s police chief last week.

"The Marion Police Department is something that has always intrigued me," Fitts said. "This is my hometown. I was born and raised here."

Fitts started out with the Williamson County Sheriff’s office and later spent more than two decades with Illinois State Police. He also served as director of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group, a group dedicated to drug crimes, for more than four years. He was also in the U.S. Army Reserve for six years.

Marion Mayor Mike Absher says Fitts’ experience made him stand out, “I do believe he is, without question, the most qualified candidate that we had and I’m proud of the process that we went through. It wasn’t just somebody that was a friend of mine out of a back pocket or something that you put in the police chief position.”

Finalists for the job were put through a crisis drill to see how they can handle worst-case scenarios.

"As the mayor, I need to know that whoever the police chief is can competently handle a situation like that," Absher said.

Fitts believes he’s the first chief in his lifetime that wasn’t promoted from within, but despite that, he says everyone has been great to work with.

"I’m sure some of the officers here were very concerned with somebody that they didn’t know, haven’t worked with," Fitts said.

Fitts said one of his main goals early on is to keep costs down, but eventually, he wants to hire more officers to cover a growing population.

"I am not a budget guru," Fitts said. "That’s something we’re going to have work together as a team in this office."

Absher said Fitts makes the same base salary as his predecessor, Dawn Tondini, at $82,000 per year. Tondini made a few thousand more with incentives, but Fitts is eligible for those same incentives if he accomplishes certain tasks.

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