The Moline City Council approved the hiring of a new city police chief at a special meeting Tuesday night.

The hiring of Darren Gault, a captain in the East Moline Police Department, was approved with a unanimous vote. All aldermen were present. Gault replaces John Hitchcock, who retired on Oct. 15, weeks after his Sept. 7 arrest for driving under the influence in Scott County.

Gault said that he sees law enforcement as a calling.

“I felt that this was the place I needed to be as the next stop in my career,” he said.

Gault said his initial steps will include getting to know the department and the city, and gathering input from community stakeholders.

Gault has been an East Moline officer since 1998 and has held a number of positions, including patrol officer and detective, according to a Moline news release. From 2002 to 2005, he was a member of the Quad-Cities’ federal gang task force. Other ranks he has held are sergeant and lieutenant.

Gault’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from Coe College and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Ambrose University, the release states. He also completed the FBI National Academy in 2017.

His first day is scheduled for July 31.

Hitchcock became chief in January 2018. He was placed on administrative leave after his arrest and stayed on leave until he left the department. Hitchcock later pleaded guilty in the drunk driving case.

The department’s captains, Trevor Fisk and Brian Johnson, were also placed on administrative leave after the traffic stop. The captains were in the vehicle with Hitchcock. Fisk and Johnson were given suspensions and then returned to duty.

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After Hitchcock was put on leave, the department was initially led by Moline Police Lt. Dave Gass, and later by Robert T. Finney, the former Champaign chief. Finney has since served as interim chief while the city searched for Hitchcock’s replacement.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the city thanked Finney for his assistance as interim.

Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri said she has been pleased with the efforts of the police department over the recent period.

“They’ve worked really hard to keep the community safe,” she said.

She added that she was excited to have Gault’s leadership in the department.

The search was put on hold when City Administrator Doug Maxeiner resigned Jan. 22. It was resumed in May by his replacement, Lisa Kotter.

Kotter recommended Gault at the Tuesday meeting. In the release she stated that Gault has a good understanding of law enforcement in the city and the Quad-Cities.

She also said Gault has forward-thinking ideas that, along with the city’s team, will create a strong future for the department and Moline.

“We look forward to his being here,” she said after the vote.

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