Marble Hill police officer appointed new chief

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Dennis Willis says he's been around long enough that the people of Marble Hill should know exactly what they're getting with him as their new police chief.

"They already know me," Willis said. "Ain't no use in saying any more. Half of them are madder than hell that I got the job and the other half aren't."

Willis got his start in law enforcement in Lutesville in the 1970s, worked as a sheriff's deputy in the 1980s and was Bollinger County sheriff for four years in the late 1990s.

For the past several years, he's been a police officer in Marble Hill and officially became its new chief last week, replacing Gary Shrum, who took a job as administrative assistant with the city.

Marble Hill Mayor Ben Ellis said it's a good fit for both the city and Willis.

"He knows the people and he knows the city," he said. "He knows the problems. We just felt like he would be able to do a good job as chief of police of Marble Hill."

Shrum agreed.

"He knows what it's like," Shrum said. "Dennis knows the community, he knows the officers' work habits and he knows the area, to address areas that need more attention."

The job is on an interim basis officially. Shrum took the job with the city with the caveat that if he didn't like it, he could come back to the department. But Mayor Ellis said that Shrum loves the job so far and doesn't expect he will want to go back.

Regardless, Willis doesn't worry too much about job security.

"Heck," he joked, "they may throw me and Gary both out in a year."

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