Metro-East News

Former GOP sheriff’s candidate, Fairview police chief gets new job

Fairview Heights police chief will run for sheriff

Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius announced Tuesday that he will run for sheriff in St. Clair County. He has filed as a Republican.
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Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius announced Tuesday that he will run for sheriff in St. Clair County. He has filed as a Republican.

The former Fairview Heights police chief, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for St. Clair County sheriff, has a new job.

Nick Gailius has been hired as the Madison police chief where he’ll earn $71,000 a year to run the 17-person police department that serves the town of about 4,000 people.

“It’s a good opportunity to get more connected to the community. I look forward to being out there talking to people,” Gailius said. “A smaller community is kind of interesting to me.”

Gailius said he won’t participate in the Madison pension system.

He already is receiving an annual pension of $89,000 a year for his years of service with the Fairview Heights Police Department, where he started working as an officer in 1988.

Gailius retired in July from the Fairview Heights Police Department, which serves a community of about 16,600 according to Census Bureau estimates.

“When you become a police officer, part of your compensation is a retirement opportunity,” Gailius said. “The pension I receive was for the 30 years I already did.”

Gailius in 2018 was the Republican nominee for St. Clair County sheriff, as he tried to knock off incumbent Rick Watson.

While in the Madison job, Gailius said he’ll push for strong engagement in the community. He said he looks forward with meeting with community leaders, “to get a feel of what they need from police and get their needs satisfied.”

Gailius said he may even do some patrol work too in the job.

“I would get out once in a while,” Gailius said. “There’s so much value in getting out talking to people and hearing from them directly.”

Gailius, who was sworn-in on Friday and started the job on Monday, said he will be taking some time to learn about the issues in town.

“That is part of the learning curve over the next several weeks, and what opportunities and threats are in the community, (and) what kind of partnerships can we put together,” Gailius said.

He was one of 25 people to apply for the job and 12 people who were interviewed, said Madison Mayor John W. Hamm III.

Hamm said he was impressed with how Gailius came up the ranks in Fairview Heights, and said Gailius has a good relationship with the NAACP.

“With him I think he’ll bring a lot of good things (to) the community,” Hamm said.

The previous chief, Christopher Burns, left for a job earlier this year with the Illinois Commerce Commission, Hamm said.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.