Interim Police Chief discusses priorities for Moline Police Department

MOLINE, Illinois — One sparse week into the job as Interim Police Chief of the Moline Police Department, Robert "R.T." Finney says the Moline Police Department is in a very good situation.

"While there are issues that have to be dealt with the agencies work very well together to deal with those issues," said Finney, at his office at the Moline Police Department on Monday, November 26, following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. His official start date was Monday, November 19.

Finney is part of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Interim Chief Linebackers program, meant to place retired chiefs at departments across the state that need a temporary chief, due to an unscheduled termination. Finney will not become the permanent replacement for the Moline Police Department.

"No, this program is interim only. I am here for the period of time it takes them to go through the application process, selection process and eventually pick a chief," said Finney.

The interim selection comes after former Moline Police Chief, John Hitchcock was cited with operating while intoxicated and speeding in September, 2018.

"I have to admit [Hitchcock] has left the department in a very good situation," said Finney. "This is much easier than some of the departments I have worked in. Very well liked. Very good man. I think the department is better to have had him," he said.

Following the incident, Lieutenant Dave Gass served as Acting Chief for the department. Earlier this month,  Moline City Administrator Douglas Maxeiner announced the selection of Finney to take the place of Lt. Gass, citing vacancies in the department and the need for Lt. Gass to return to his regular assignment in the Services Division.

For the first few weeks, Finney says he will be on a "listening tour" getting to know the people who work at the department. He says he will work from the top down, identifying issues that may arise on a daily basis, or issues that may be long term.

"I have to look at those issues and decide if those are issues I can deal with on the interim, or if it's left best to the new chief that’s coming in," said Finney.

Asked what makes a good interim chief, Finney says, "I think having the patience, and kind of being laid back and a sense of humor helps a lot. Certainly police personnel, we're pretty, we have a pretty good sense of humor and I like that and that's why I stay around in the profession."

Finney says the issues he's seen so far in Moline are not unlike other areas he has served.

"This is a pretty large metro area, it's going to have issues a lot of the larger areas have. Coming from Champaign, where they're experiencing a lot of crimes, with gang shootings, I am not seeing that as much here," said Finney.

The application process for a new, permanent chief ends at the end of November, interviews will follow. The City of Moline has said it hopes to have a replacement by the middle of January.

Finney is retired from the Champaign Police Department where he served as Chief from 2003 - 2012. Prior to Champaign, Finney was Chief of Police for Carbondale from 1999 - 2003. In total, he has more than 30 years of law enforcement service.

Finney will live in Moline while an outside recruiting company in Northbrook, Illinois conducts the search for a new chief. Finney calls Champaign home and returns there on weekends to be with wife. His three children and two grandchildren live nearby.