St. Louis County police chief's last day today, talks replacements


by Laura Hettiger / News 4 and staff

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 7:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 10:41 PM

(KMOV) – Thursday is St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch’s last day on the job, and he sat down with News 4’s Laura Hettiger to discuss who may be leading the department going forward.

Three lieutenant colonels were waking up Thursday wondering if it was their last day as the head of their division.

One candidate, Col. Kenneth Cox, is the head of criminal investigations, which handles crime scenes, drug enforcement and crimes against persons. Raised in St. Louis County, he started with the department in 1987.

Col. Jon Belmar is another potential replacement. He is the commanding officer of the special operations division and has been with the St. Louis County Police Department since 1986.

The third candidate is Lt. Col. Kenneth Gregory, who started with the department in 1979 and is currently the head of operations for all seven county precincts.

Chief Fitch said it was important to hire within and not looking outside the department.

“It’s important because what else have you been working for your entire career if you don’t have a chance for the top job, if you don’t have the chance to put your mark on the organization?” he asked. “To bring in someone from another agency, they don’t know the culture. It would take them a full year to make a full impact.”

The St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners will meet at 8 a.m. Friday to discuss the candidates for a final time before announcing the new chief shortly after.

Fitch’s retirement comes more than a month after County Executive Charlie A. Dooley erupted in anger against the elected county council for rejecting one of his nominees to the Board of Police Commissioners, which oversees the department.

But Fitch says his decision to leave was not influenced by the police board’s recent difficulties. Three of the five commissioners have resigned in recent months, including former board chairman Gregory Sansone.

Upon his retirement from the position, Fitch said he will start his own public safety consulting group.