Sheriff's favorite word, 'S.C.U.M.B.A.G.,' now has acronym
Chitwood: 'Scumbag' came from dinner table scolding
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Former Daytona Beach Police Chief, and now Volusia County Sheriff, Mike Chitwood regularly uses the word "scumbag" to describe "the worst of the worst."
"When you're a career criminal, sorry, you're a scumbag," Chitwood said Wednesday morning in an exclusive interview with News 6.
Since Chitwood took over the Daytona Beach Police Department in 2006, he's used the word dozens of times in press conferences.
"If the guy's a scumbag, a dirtball, a rapist, call him that! Don't call him mister!" Chitwood said.
Last week, Chitwood turned "scumbag" into an an acronym on the Sheriff's Office's Facebook and Twitter pages when posting about fugitives:
Suspected Criminal Unconcerned with Morals or Acts of Goodness, or S.C.U.M.B.A.G.
Chitwood said his public information officer, Andrew Gant, came up with the acronym, knowing Chitwood is attached to the word. Chitwood agreed.
"From my perspective, if you want to bring attention to it, the more salacious an adjective you can put in front of it, the more people will look in and listen to it," Chitwood said.
The postings have been shared tens of thousands of times and have led to arrests.
The first post, about Sean Mixson, who Chitwood described as a career criminal suspected of dozens of burglaries, was viewed more than 50,000 times on Facebook and shared more than 400 times.
"He got arrested in St. John's County, as a result of what we were looking for," Chitwood said. "They are career criminals! They will steal your teeth out of your head if you allow them. This Sean Mixon, one of my biggest fears is he's walking into garages of occupied homes, what happens if he comes across a young woman or an older woman?"
News 6 anchor Erik von Ancken asked Chitwood how he came up with "scumbag."
"At the dinner table, my mother reported to my father something I had done," Chitwood said. "My father reached across the table and grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and said to me, 'I didn't raise you to be a blank scumbag!'"
Chitwood said the word stuck.
"It's my word but also when you talk to victims of crime, victims of crime have some pretty good vocabulary about who they think the perpetrators are when that person got caught," Chitwood said. "I shop at Walmart, I want a safe neighborhood, I want my children and grand children to be in a safe neighborhood."
Chitwood said that, judging from the comments he's received, people seem to appreciate his use of the word "scumbag," along with his "say-it-like-it-is" demeanor. And if not, he doesn't care.
"People say, 'Hey, you're a straight talker. You say just how I feel. You don't worry about the repercussions or the consequences of what we all what to say and we can't say,'" Chitwood said. "My passion is to catch the bad guy. My passion is to lead my organization and make Volusia County the safest county in the state of Florida. And you're gonna break some eggs doing that."
"I'm not worried about being prim and proper, I'm not worried about being elected to the United States Senate, I'm not worried about being elected governor," said Chitwood. "I love being a cop, my passion is police work in my community, and I'm going to call it the way I see it, and if the voters don't like it they can say, 'Hey, have a nice day!'"
"If you don't like it, you don't have to like it, I'm going to keep doing my thing, I've been doing it for 30 years," said Chitwood. "Someday they'll take this and say you can't do it anymore. And when they do, I'm fine with that. We'll agree to disagree, but I cannot in good conscience 'hug a thug.' It's just not going to happen. I can't call someone like that 'mister.' I can't."
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