Michael Chitwood, charismatic police chief, to release autobiography

Michael Chitwood. Credit: Paige Ozaroski/METRO
Michael Chitwood. Credit: Paige Ozaroski/Metro

Michael Chitwood never carried a gun. As a homicide detective in Philadelphia, he once jacked up a perp with a pool cue. “Because I was always a lousy shot,” he explained.

During reconnaissance missions as a member of the city’s narcotics unit, he’s disguised himself as a bum, a janitor and a woman.

“You got four white guys walking together through North Philly,” he said, “There’ s only one reason why they’re there. So we had to dress down.”

At age 69, the 49-year police veteran and current head of the Upper Darby Police Department still busts down doors on drug raids and joins bike patrols cruising through the streets of the Philadelphia suburb.

“I still have the same passion as I did when I was 21,” he said.

And he’s still collecting adventures — handfuls of which will be included in his autobiography, which is due out in September. The book, co-written with Hal Gullan, will be published through Philadelphia-based Camino Books. The book’s title and cover are not yet available.

For the first time, the charismatic police chief will have his stories consolidated into one volume.

“Here it is,” he said, “This is my life.”

His career started in his hometown. During his 19 years with the Philadelphia Police Department, Chitwood earned more than 70 commendations.

He climbed the career ladder to Middletown in Bucks County where he served as chief of police for five years. He took the same job in Portland, Maine, and after 17 years he returned closer to home. He started in Upper Darby in August 2005.

Most will recognize his name from the news. Chitwood is, if anything, a public figure. He once held a press conference to demonstrate the effects of a stun gun. And he tested it on himself.

He shrugs.

“Look,” he said, “people deserve to know what’s happening in their community.”


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