HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg Police Chief David Morris announced Monday he will resign from the department effective Friday, retiring from the position to work for Harrisburg Unit 3.
"It was the time in my life to make a change, so I've resigned my position from Harrisburg Police Department and accepted another position with a similar salary," Morris said. "This is a decision I made for my family and my well-being. It's time to enjoy my life."
Morris is the longest-serving officer in the police department, with 31 years and eight months of service to HPD. His total time in law enforcement is 32 years two months. He served six months with the city of Benton at the start of his career.
For Morris, being named chief of police was a way of honoring his father's legacy as a Harrisburg Police Department officer, while going a step farther.
"Dad was an officer for 17 years. He never made chief because he died," Morris said. "One of the biggest steps in my life was the possibility of becoming chief when I joined the department. In that way, I've fulfilled one of his goals."
Morris recalled sharing his first day on the force with a previous chief's last: March 16, 1987.
"Leon Stull retired the same day I got hired, and we celebrated it every year until he passed away," Morris said.
Beth Montfort, the city's public health and safety commissioner, praised Morris for his many years of service.
"I wish him the best," Montfort said. "He's done an excellent job as police chief."
She said assistant police chief Sgt. Michael Riden will serve in the interim until the city makes a permanent replacement.
"In my opinion, the right thing to do is to let people apply for the position between now and Feb. 1, have interviews and probably hire someone around the middle of February," she said. "And, maybe the best person is someone already on our own force. It's a position the entire council will choose."
Council will have a special meeting Wednesday to discuss finding a new police chief.
Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek said he's enjoyed working with Morris.
"The last year working with him has been a great pleasure. Dave is a leader and I will miss him," McPeek said. "I wish him the best of luck."
Morris, who turned 60 at the beginning of November, will begin his work as a unit resource officer for Harrisburg Unit 3 on Monday, Dec. 3, he said. He joins retired Illinois State Police trooper Scott Isaacs, whom the school district hired as a resource officer earlier this year.
"This is something that is important for the safety of the kids," Morris said.
He said he has enjoyed his long tenure at HPD.
"It's been a pleasure working for the city," Morris said. "I have a lot of good memories and there are a lot of good men and women I've worked side by side with in law enforcement. I will miss all involved, but I'll still be around."