The Police Officers Journal: Volume 30, Number 1 Winter 2020

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J urnal The Police Officers


Volume 30, Number 1 • Winter 2020

Winter 2020

On the inside: POLC Officers’ heroic efforts save lives – Pg. 4-5 POLC/GELC Labor Reps retire – Pg. 2-3 Save the Date for POLC/GELC Conference – Pg. 3 New Units join POLC – Pg. 7-8

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Huggett reflects on three decades of Union service — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor Volume 30, Number 1 • winter 2020

Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) 667 E. Big Beaver Road, Suite 205, Troy, MI 48083. (248) 524-3200 • FAX: (248) 524-2752 POLC membership:

Executive Committee

CHAIR: Steve McInchak Gibraltar Police Dept.

VICE CHAIR: Brian McNair Chesterfield Township Police Dept.

Collin Birnie Flint Police Dept.

Kyle Culbertson

Berrien County Sheriffs Dept.

Mike DeKam

Grand Rapids Communications

Scott Eager

Battle Creek Police Dept.

Jennifer Flick

Jackson Police Dept.

Jeff Gormley

Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Dept.

John Huizdos

Bloomfield Township Police Dept.

DIRECTOR, Robert Figurski Warren PD (Retired)

Member Services Lloyd Whetstone Publications Executive Editor: Jennifer Gomori


reg Huggett has gone full circle in his 31year career with the POLC. From working as a local Union board Secretary to serving as the Executive Committee Chair, Huggett retired from police work and began advocating for other POLC/GELC members as a Labor Representative in 2015. “It’s a lot different than I expected, but I actually love my job and I retire with reservations because I do like my job so much,” Huggett said in October of his pending retirement Dec. 31, 2019. “It’s been a lot of fun.” Huggett said he learned as much on the job as a Labor Rep. as he did as a POLC/GELC Executive Committee member. The big difference was the transition from police work to Labor Representative. “The interaction with all the groups, being able to still be connected to public safety and not have to put a uniform on has been really nice,” Huggett said. Now Huggett and his wife, Krista, plan to retire as snowbirds. “I want to sit back and enjoy life,” he said. “Michigan is a beautiful state even in the winter. The change of seasons is beautiful, but I want to get out of the cold for at least part of it. There’s a lot of other things I want to do. I plan on being in Florida January through March every year and I can’t commit to taking care of my groups from Florida. I love to golf, and I want to be able to golf during the winter months and I want to be able to be active.” Huggett began his career at Pennfield Township Police Department and worked for Albion Department of Public Safety from 1986-88 before joining Battle Creek PD, serving as Battle Creek POLC Non-Supervisory Unit Secretary. He retired as a Sergeant in 2013. Huggett then worked as a Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office Criminal Investigator from 2014 to January 2015 before returning to the POLC/GELC as a Labor Rep. Huggett has been a huge part of the organization, as POLC Executive Committee Chair from 1997 to 2013. He was Grievance Committee Chairman and served on the Finance, Public Relations and Publication committees. Some of his accomplishments include: getting a POLC member appointed to the MCOLES board; expanding the Law Enforcement Education Program; balancing the POLC budget; and bringing the attorney staff in house. He remembers how tough it was making decisions to benefit the Union as a whole. “Having been the Chair, I’ve been the boss and I really didn’t relish making all the decisions I had to make, because there’s always an impact on somebody,” Huggett said. “From an administrative perspective, there are parameters you have to stay within.” While he said some of his Union positions have been tougher than others, he is thankful for all of them. “I learned from each of them,” he said. “I like what I’m doing right now but I liked being on the state board. I liked being on the local level and I think I’ve accomplished things not just good for me but for the groups.” As a labor organization working to shape legislation in Lansing, Huggett said Union efforts should be focused on decisions that are good for everyone, not just Union employees. However, Huggett said it’s important for POLC/GELC Labor Reps to remember who they serve. “I think that each of the Labor Reps have to keep in mind we’re a service organization and we need to be responsible to our members,“ he said. “We work for them.” d

The Police Officers Journal

Caster has seen major changes for police over past three decades — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


erry Caster has witnessed many changes in police work in the 32 years he’s been representing officers, but he has no doubt POLC and GELC’s labor representatives are prepared to handle the shifting landscape. “I’ve seen changes over the decades, some good and some not so good,” said Caster, who retired Jan. 3, 2020. “Every department is having a difficult time hiring qualified personnel. People that are qualified don’t want to do that job. Given the level of expected education and performance, the wage and benefit packages have not kept up.” The fact that POLC/GELC Reps are retired officers gives them an inside view of the ramifications of Employer wage and benefit proposals, Caster said. “We’ve got some really good Reps, and I’m confident they’ll be able to deal with the problems and find solutions,” he said. “They’ve come through it themselves. They know what has happened in their career in law enforcement and they’re well-suited to deal with it.” Caster has seen changes in technology and a more negative public perception of law enforcement. “It’s a different career now,” Caster said. “We achieved a pretty decent benefit package during



the 80s and 90s and the trend since then has been to erode those packages. The biggest is the retirement. You could spend 25 years as a police officer and retire and that’s going away now. A lot of people can’t envision themselves working (as police officers) when they’re 60. You’re going to have to go make room for walkers in these police cars,” Caster joked. Caster began working as a POLC Labor Rep. in 1987. He retired as a Highland Park Police Officer in 1984 after serving as President of the Local Police Officers Association four years and a board member for eight years. Highland Park Police were affiliated with Teamsters, so after retirement he became a Teamster Business Agent with Michigan Law Enforcement Union. He made the move to the POLC due to the status of the organizaContinued on page 7

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The Police Officers Journal

POLC officers save lives in hou — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor, with excerpts from news media and Facebook

FLUSHING POLICE RESCUE TEEN FROM HOUSE FIRE Flushing Township Police Officer Brian Farlin received a Life-Saving Award at the Flushing Township Board meeting Nov. 14 for his part in saving a 17-year-old girl trapped inside her burning home. Officer Farlin, Flushing Fire Chief James Michaels and Flushing City Officers Eric Earns and Matthew Jensen were dispatched around 3:25 p.m. Oct. 19, 2019 to a house fire on the 3000 block of Crooked Limb Court. Flushing Township and City Officers are represented by the POLC. The Flushing City Officers lifted Officer Farlin and the Flushing Fire Chief to the home’s first story roof where they had access to the second level, according to a Flushing Township Police Facebook post. Chief Michaels broke a second story bedroom window and Officer Farlin pulled the victim out of the smoke-filled room safely through the broken glass. “I ripped the curtains down and draped the curtains over the window. We physically lifted her up and brought her out horizontally. She didn’t get cut,” Farlin said, however he suffered lacerations and abrasions to his hands and arms. “The Chief had protective gear on and obviously I didn’t.” Farlin and Michaels lowered the victim down to the City Officers, who rushed her to a waiting ambulance. “We looked over the edge of the roof and everyone was gone,” Farlin said, laughing. “So, we just climbed down the antenna. It was no big deal.” The victim, who was home alone, was treated and released from an area hospital for smoke inhalation. The fire was caused by one of the children leaving something burning on the stove. “She was in the bathroom giving the dog a bath and smoke came up through the vents,” Farlin said. “She called her dad and her brother called 911.”

Photo courtesy of Flushing Township Police

Flushing Township Police Officer Brian Farlin was presented with a Life-Saving Award by his department.

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Flushing Firefighters rescued the dog, who was hiding underneath a bed, Farlin said. “On October 21st, Chief Michaels came into my office and informed me of what had occurred,” said Flushing Township Police Chief Mark Bolin during the award presentation. “I asked him what would have happened had they not responded in such a timely fashion and he said the results would likely have been fatal.” “None of the them wanted to be recognized, but I kind of nudged our officer because I thought it was worthy of receiving our award,” Bolin said.

Photo Courtesy of Chesterfield Township Police

Chesterfield Township Police Officer Hallie Fowler jumped into Lake St. Clair to save a teen whose car plunged into the frigid water.


Chesterfield Township Police and Firefighters are being credited with saving a suicidal teen after an extensive high-speed police pursuit which ended with the 16-year-old male driving into Lake St. Clair. Chesterfield Township Officer Hallie Fowler immediately jumped into the lake to rescue the teen. “The car was still afloat. She went into the water, but he resisted coming out,” said Township Police Capt. Brian McNair. Other Township Officers joined in the rescue with Chesterfield Township Firefighters in emergency water rescue gear. Chesterfield Township Police are represented by the POLC. The vehicle slowly sank while the teen resisted being saved, police said. He was eventually rescued after firefighters broke the driver’s side window. He exited the vehicle and climbed atop the fully submerged vehicle’s roof. He continued to resist aide and several officers pulled him to shore. He was handcuffed and taken to McLaren Macomb Hospital. “He had to be coaxed out (of the car),” McNair said. The police pursuit began after the teen’s friend and mother called 911 around 11:30 p.m. Nov. 3, 2019, reporting the teen had stolen his parents’ 2018 GMC Terrain and had been making threats to kill himself. “He was on the phone with the mom and 911 the whole time

The Police Officers Journal

se fire, frigid water rescues saying he wanted to commit suicide,” McNair said. Officers quickly located the teen speeding on 23 Mile Road near Nicolette Drive. Officers pursued him traveling over 80 mph westbound on 23 Mile and near North Avenue onto 27 Mile Road in Lenox Township, where the pursuit ended because the teen’s reckless driving was placing other motorists in danger, according to police. Minutes later, the vehicle re-entered Chesterfield Township and the high-speed chase resumed on Donner Road near Cotton Road. The boy sped off the end of 21 Mile Road near Jefferson Avenue and Farwell Road and into Lake St. Clair, police said. The teen was taken to the hospital treated for hyperthermia and petitioned for a mental health evaluation, McNair said. “Charges are still pending authorization at the prosecutor’s office,” McNair said in early December about fleeing police and unlawful driving away a motor vehicle. “They terminated the chase two or three different times and went through several communities.”

MT. MORRIS POLICE SAVE TRAPPED DRIVER Mt. Morris Police Det. Kevin Mihailoff dove into frigid water and rescued a 50-year-old man trapped underwater inside his vehicle Nov. 4, 2019. POLC-represented units Mt. Morris City and Mt. Morris Township Police responded around 12:15 p.m. to a 911 call from a bystander. The vehicle had gone though the guardrail on Stanley Road near Clio Road, falling 15 to 20 feet and landing upside down in Brent Run Creek, police said. “The inside of the car was completely filled with water. The water was at my waist level and I’m 6-feet tall,” said Mihailoff, who is the local Union President. “The roof was smashed in. When I jumped over the guardrail and slid down the steep embankment, (Mt. Morris Township) Officer (Cody) Volway was already in the water and broke out one window and was trying to get the door open. He could hear someone inside the car.” After using a window punch to break the driver side rear window,

Photo courtesy of Mt. Morris City Police Department

Mt. Morris Police Det. Kevin Mihailoff dove underwater to rescue a man trapped inside his vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Mt. Morris Township Police Department

Mt. Morris Township Officers Cody Volway (left) and Mackenzie Dunklee were involved in the rescue of a man trapped inside a vehicle underwater.

Volway made multiple attempts to grab ahold of the driver, later identified as Christopher Cady, according to a release issued by Mt. Morris Township Sgt. Bill VanBuskirk. Mihailoff was also unsuccessful reaching the victim in the murky water. After Officer Volway tried but failed to break another car window, Det. Mihailoff removed his gun belt and dove in. “I went into the (broken) rear window … halfway. I couldn’t see anything,” Mihailoff said. “I felt the driver seat side headrest. Toward the backseat was the driver.” “He wasn’t in a seatbelt when I grabbed onto him,” said Mihailoff, who is also a part-time Mt. Morris Township Officer. “I felt his arm and hand and grabbed onto him and pulled him toward me.” The frigid water took Mihailoff’s breath away and he came up for air. “I almost lost grip, went back down again and pulled him more,” he said. “I picked him up by the front part of his coat. He got his feet under him and he took a big huge gasp of air.” “He stood up and actually at one point said, ‘thank you,’” Mihailoff said in a article. After confirming no one else was in the vehicle, the driver was handed off to Mt. Morris Township Officer Mackenzie Dunklee who helped medical personnel get him to an ambulance. He was transported to Hurley Hospital, where he was treated and released. Mihailoff was treated for exposure. “I don’t know the temperature of the water, but it took my breath away,” he said. “I got in an ambulance to get warm.” “The quick response time and actions that were demonstrated by Officer Volway, Officer Dunklee and Det. Mihailoff saved Mr. Cady’s life,” Sgt. VanBuskirk stated in the release. “All three demonstrated tremendous bravery and the will to not give up until Mr. Cady was freed from the vehicle. Awesome Job!!!” d

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Member News Winter Contract Settlements

— As reported by POLC/GELC Labor Representatives

Allegan County Sheriff’s Road Patrol, Sergeants, Lieutenants & Captains

Extended Wage Re-opener for three years expires Dec. 31, 2023. Wages: 2% effective Jan. 1, 2020. 2% effective Jan. 1, 2021. 2% effective Jan. 1, 2022. Bargaining Team: Chris Haverdink, Cory Hunt and Chris Kuhn aided by POLC Labor Rep. John Stidham.

Battle Creek Sergeants

New five-year agreement expires June 30, 2024. Wages: 10.9% effective July 1, 2019. 0% effective July 1, 2020. 1% effective July 1, 2021. 2% effective July 1, 2022. 2% effective July 1, 2023. Fringe Benefits: Employees can opt for a PTO payout up to 40 hours annually. Retirement: Additional Employee pension contribution as follows: .5% effective July 1, 2020. .5% effective July 1, 2021. .5% effective July 1, 2022. A total of 13.22% Employee pension contribution by the end of the contract. Bargaining Team: Chad Fickle, Todd Eliott and Kurt Roth aided by POLC Labor Rep. John Stidham.

Bay County Corrections & Records Specialists *NEW UNIT

New three-year agreement expires Dec. 31, 2022. Wages: 2% effective Jan. 1, 2020. $500 effective Jan. 1, 2021. 1% effective Jan. 1, 2022. Fringe Benefits: Uniform allowance increased from $450 to $500. Shift premium for midnights increased from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour. Officer training premium of $1 per hour added for every hour of training a new officer. Sick and Accident Disability raised from $395 to a $500 weekly payment including work-related and non-work-related injuries. Record Specialists receive a paid day off when the county building is closed due to inclement weather. Bargaining Team: President Jim Fulger aided by POLC Labor Rep. Duane Smith.

Bay County Corrections Sergeants *NEW UNIT

New three-year agreement expires Dec. 31, 2022. Wages: 10% above highest paid Corrections Officers for Sergeants effective Jan. 1, 2020. 15% above highest paid Corrections Officers for Sergeant Ones (equivalent to Lieutenants) effective Jan. 1, 2020. Fringe Benefits: Uniform allowance increased from $450 to $500. Life insurance increased from $35,000 to $40,000. Sick Leave increased to 40 hours for family illnesses under the Paid Medical Leave Act. Previously Employees

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only received 24 hours of Family Sick Leave. Bargaining Team: Sgt. Dan Martin and Chief Steward Jon Oliver aided by POLC Labor Rep. Chris Watts.

Bridgeport Charter Township Patrol

Wage Re-opener expires June 1, 2020. Wages: 3% effective Jan. 1, 2020. Bargaining Team: Dennis Howe aided by POLC Labor Rep. John Stidham.

Kalkaska Village Police

New three-year agreement expires Feb. 28, 2022. Wages: 8.9% effective March 1, 2019. 0% effective March 1, 2020. 0% effective March 1, 2021. The following wage changes are effective March 1, 2019: Starting wage increased from $15.56 to $19 per hour. Pay scale steps decreased from 7 to 5 to reach top wage. Established Command Officers differentials: • Sergeants receive 15% above top Patrol Officer, an increase of $4.17 per hour. • Lieutenants received 10% above Sergeants, an increase of $5.49 per hour. Fringe Benefits: Comp Time bank established with 182-hour cap. K9 Officer receives 3-1/2 hours of additional pay per pay period for K9 duties. Holiday Pay changes from 8 hours per Holiday to match the scheduled shift of 8, 10, or 12 hours. Bargaining Team: Aaron Poppa and Cole Nabby aided by POLC Labor Rep. John Stidham.

Lansing Township Non-Supervisory Police

New three-year agreement expires Dec. 30, 2021. Wages: 2.5% effective Jan. 1, 2019. 2.5% effective Jan. 1, 2020. 2.25% effective Jan. 1, 2021. Fringe Benefits: Increase Personal Leave from 30 to 36 hours per year. Earned Time Off (Comp Time), that can be used in conjunction with Vacation periods, increased from 30 to 36 hours annually. Health Care: Increase in Employee premium contribution from 15% to 16% effective Jan. 1, 2021. Bargaining Team: Pat Herson and Dave Gurby aided by POLC Labor Reps. John Stidham and Greg Huggett.

Pinckney Patrol Officers *NEW UNIT

New three-year agreement expires June 30, 2022. Wages: Effective July 1, 2019: Eliminate lowest step in pay scale. Add additional pay step to replace the omitted one that is 4% over the previous step. Everyone moves up a pay step with wage increases of 3% to 5.8% effective July 1, 2019. 2.5% effective July 1, 2020. 2.5% effective July 1, 2021. *Of note: The bargaining unit only has full-time officers. Fringe Benefits: Change Overtime requirements from 85.5 hours in a twoweek pay period to 84 hours in a two-week period. Additionally, any hours worked beyond the normal shift are considered Overtime. Bargaining Team: Chris Doolan and Jeff Finke aided by POLC Labor Rep. Duane Smith.


New Units Lake Odessa Patrol joins POLC for parity without disturbing peace — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


ake Odessa Patrol hasn’t been unionized in years, but the idea of having representation from lawyers knowledgeable about police issues really appealed to them — so in October 2019 they chose POLC to represent them. “It just would be nice to have representation by a lawyer who is familiar with how law enforcement works, how Garrity works,” said Local Union Steward Eric Tollefson. “We knew POLC lawyers had experience with police use of force matters.” In addition to their legal team, the POLC’s local presence really got Lake Odessa Patrol’s attention. “Honestly it was the regional familiarization,” Tollefson said. “A lot of the Field Reps were very local to Ionia, Kent and Allegan counties. I felt they would know more about what‘s going on in our area than other unions would.” As they enter into contract talks, Tollefson said one of their main

objectives is getting their wages and benefits up to the standard of similar sized departments in their area. Tollefson is impressed with POLC Labor Rep. Jason Owen and his understanding of how to help them reach their objectives without harming relationships. “Jason Owen has been there for me,” Tollefson said. “He’s very easy to get a hold of if I need him.” “The main thing is, and I mentioned this to Jason, our department has a very good rapport with the Chief and Village Manager and Council and we were looking for a union that would come in and continue that good relationship,” he said. “Jason said he understood where we were coming from and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that relationship.” “At least from what I’ve seen so far, it’s a fantastic organization,” Tollefson said.d

Castor Retires continued from page 3 tion and the work they were doing. Over the years, he benefited members with his representation and by conducting numerous labor relations seminars. “I was actually able to write contracts that were beneficial to their organizations and to them,” Caster said. “It’s kind of that old adage — If you find a job that you like and enjoy you never have to work again. I think that sums it up. It’s been a very enjoyable career. I’m

Contract Settlement continued from page 6

Romulus Police Command Officers

New five-1/2 year agreement expires June 30, 2023. Wages: 2% effective Jan. 1, 2018. 1% effective July 1, 2018. 1% effective Jan. 1, 2019. 1% effective July 1, 2019 plus one-time wage adjustment for Sergeants of $4,095 and Lieutenants of $4,422. 1% effective July 1, 2020. 1% effective July 1, 2021. 2% effective July 1, 2022. Retroactive to July 1, 2019 the following are additional changes in wages: • Captains’ pay rate increased from 3% over Lieutenants to 5% over Lieutenants. • Administrative Sergeants have an annual stipend of $2,000 over the wage of Sergeant. • Command Officers with the same rank for 5 years shall receive a 1% pay increase over their regular wage.

going miss the activity. I’m going to miss the guys I worked with.” But Caster will enjoy spending his retirement relaxing and doing the things he’s always wanted to with his wife Katherine. “We’re going to stay in Michigan and do a little traveling,” Caster said. “I’m going to do the things I can still physically do that I didn’t have the time to do before.” d

• Command Officers with the same rank for 10 years shall receive a 2% pay increase over their regular wage. Fringe Benefits: 100% tuition reimbursement up to a master’s degree. Tuition reimbursement will be paid back to the Employer if an Employee quits within 5 years of tuition reimbursement. Employees that retire with 25 years of service are exempt from the payback. Previously, Employees were reimbursed 100% up to an Associate’s degree and 50% beyond the Associate’s. Employer shall pay for Employee’s membership at Romulus Athletic Center. Health Care: Employer quit opting out of Act 152 and is going with the hard cap. The existing health care plan remains available and there is a new option that has premiums near the hard cap amounts. Retirement: MERS pension multiplier will bridge down for senior Employees from 3% to 2.5%. Less senior Employees pension multiplier remain at 2.5%. All Employee contributions to their pensions shall increase from 7% to 10%. Manning & Safety: Discipline can remain in Employee’s personnel file up to 5 years from the current 2 years. Discipline older than 2 years old cannot be used to compound a current discipline unless it is of a similar nature. Bargaining Team: Local Union Stewards Damian Hall, Roger Salwa and Anthony Norman aided by POLC Labor Rep. Duane Smith. d

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New Units Bay County Corrections returns to POLC for representation they needed — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


ay County Corrections and Records Specialists decided their departure from the POLC over seven years ago was not in their best interest, so, in October 2019 they came back. “We felt that POAM wasn’t giving us good representation, so we wanted to try somewhere else,” said local union President Jim Fulger. “We had POLC before my time. There’s a lot of new deputies since it’s been switched over to POAM, but the (older) deputy said the POLC was always there and did a good job when they needed them.” The 35-member group is already impressed with the attentiveness they’ve received from POLC Labor Rep. Duane Smith. “Duane came in and had three different meetings with our local members,” Fulger said. “(With POAM) we barely saw anybody for representation. Duane did a good job. He was always willing to show up when he was needed.” The new three-year contract, effective Jan. 1, 2020, was settled quickly, with 3 percent in raises and a $500 annual boost in year two.

The uniform allowance increased to $500 annually and the shift premium doubled from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour for midnight shift. New for Employees is an officer training premium of $1 per hour for every hour an officer ® trains a new officer. Sick and accident disability pay increased by $105 per week from $395 to $500. “If they do something off duty and can’t come to work, they get paid anyways through the insurance up to $500 a week,” Smith said. Under the new contract, Records Specialists don’t have to go without pay or take Vacation Time to get paid when bad weather rolls in. “There’s a new article for bad weather. If the county building is closed, they’re not required to come in and they’re not shorted in their pay,” Smith said. “They don’t have to take a Vacation Day or get paid for a 32-hour week.” d

Bay County Corrections Sergeants move to POLC pays off in contract — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


ay County Corrections Sergeants took the opportunity to create their own unit when they joined the POLC along with Corrections Officers & Records Specialists in October 2019. When the Sergeants were with their former union, the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), they didn’t feel like their unique circumstances were being addressed. “They were part of the same contract and upon switching over to us, they entered into the agreement with the Employer that they could become their own unit,” said POLC Labor Rep. Chris Watts. “Command Officers typically have more responsibilities. They became their own unit for compensation for the additional duties and responsibilities.” “We were just allowed to split, so we’re a brand-new unit,” said the Sergeants Local Union Chief Steward Jon Oliver. “ Our interests might be different than regular Correction Officers. We’re more easily able to negotiate for a smaller group of people,” he said of the seven-member unit. The prior Bay County Corrections unit was represented by POAM for about 12 years, Oliver said. “We had been with the POAM for a long time,” he said. “It became a thing where they became very complacent, very stagnant. Our local unit Rep. didn’t really have contact with any of us that I was

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aware of. A lack of communication was the biggest thing.”


The Sergeants first POLC-negotiated contract solidified the change in union representation was key. Now Sergeants receive 10 percent higher wages than Corrections Officers and Sergeant Ones (the equivalent of Lieutenants) receive 15 percent more than Corrections Officers. “We were able to establish a rank differential of 10 and 15 percent above the highest paid Corrections Officer between two ranks of Sergeants,” Watts said. “We don’t have to negotiate about wages anymore,” Oliver said. Their clothing allowance increased from $450 to $500 and life insurance boosted from $35,000 to $40,000. Sick Leave increased to 40 hours per year for family illnesses, which aligns with the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act. Prior to this contract, Employees only received 24 hours for family Sick Leave. “We increased funding in the event they went on Sick Leave,” Watts said. “Overall the change has been positive,” Oliver said of the move to POLC. “I had worked with POLC a long time ago when Lloyd Whetstone was our Rep. I always liked Lloyd. He was a straight shooter. Chris has done a very good job.” d

The Police Officers Journal

LEEP Award humbles academy graduate — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


lexander Mutchler is off to a great start in his career securing a full-time position as a West Bloomfield Police Officer upon graduation from Wayne County Regional Police Training Academy. A $1,000 LEEP Award will help him in that endeavor. “I’m very humbled by that award,” he said. “It definitely helps with getting into a new career and with the academy expenses.” Mutchler graduated Nov. 8, 2019 in his West Bloomfield Police uniform. Out of a class of 48, he was one of the 28 pre-service cadets. “He was just stellar in everything he did,” said the Schoolcraft College Police Academy Director Anthony Mencotti. “He was voted Captain by his peers the last four weeks of the academy. Physically he was one of the top guys. He was a standout academically. He was in the fifth place out of 48 recruits. With a 91 percent class average, he received the MCOLES Outstanding Performance Award.” Mutchler also received a $500 Class Leadership Award from Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. “We take the top eight

people pre-service and they’re judged by leadership, performance and academics,” Mencotti said. The 26-year-old obtained a Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University. He served with the U.S. Coast Guard from 2015-19, where he was a Boarding Officer. His ultimate goal was law enforcement, like his father Photo courtesy of WCRPTA Todd Mutchler, Director of Public Alexander Mutchler Safety in Northville Township and former Canton Public Safety Director. “As soon as I got out, I went straight to the academy,” Mutchler said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and without the command staff at the academy building me up to the Police Officer I am today,” he said. d

Volunteering inspired public safety officer — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


acob AC Yglesias’ volunteer work with the Detroit Goodfellows — distributing Christmas gifts to needy Detroit-area children — united him annually with Detroit Police. The 24-year-old’s father runs the warehouse at Detroit Goodfellows. “When I was young, every Christmastime me and my family would help deliver packages to Detroit police precincts. The (needy) families that live in that area would come pick those up,” he said. “It was very fun, and I got to talk with a lot of police officers and that’s what got me interested in law enforcement too.” This December, he received a $1,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award. Yglesias was among the 29 pre-service cadets in a graduating class of 39 recruits Dec. 17, 2019 from Macomb Police Academy. He worked as an Uber and Lyft driver to save money for his academy training. “When I got accepted into the police academy, it basically took all my money,” Yglesias said. “As soon as I heard about a scholarship, I applied for every single one. (The LEEP Award) is going to help me tremendously. It will give me a cushion before I start working. I have no words for it. I really appreciate it.” “Another reason the scholarship really helped is being at the academy you don’t really have time to work,” he said. “I’ve been going to academy and that really consumed all my time.” Yglesias obtained an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Wayne County Community College and bachelor’s in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. “He’s respectful to people, yet has a very strong presence, so he appears confident when he interacts with people,” said Macomb

Police Academy Director Raymund Macksoud. “He’s above class average as far as academics. I had to find a reason to give him a demerit yesterday because he’s just a rule follower,” Macksoud said jokingly before graduation. In February, Yglesias was hired as a Fraser Public Safety Officer. In March, the department will sponsor his training at Macomb Fire Academy. “He loves to help people. He’s just a great young man,” Macksoud said, adding Yglesias also volunteers with City Rescue Mission of Lansing. “He’s going to be somebody who will care when interacting with people. You can see he’s compassionate. This is a person who will understand peoples’ problems.” d

Photo courtesy of Macomb Police Academy

Macomb Police Academy grad Jacob AC Yglesias (right) receives the LEEP Award from POLC Executive Committee Vice Chairman Brian McNair.

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The Police Officers Journal

Police academy grad pursues dream — By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


rik Rockwell always knew he wanted to become a police officer, but it wasn’t until he steered away from that path that he felt the pull to get back on course. “Ever since I as a little kid I always played the cop when I played cops and robbers,” Rockwell said. Concerned about his safety, his parents discouraged a career in the military or law enforcement. He decided to follow his dad’s career path instead. “After my first semester of college, I knew I didn’t want to be a mechanical engineer,” Rockwell said. “It kept pulling at me

Photo courtesy of LERTA

Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy graduate Erik Rockwell (left) is presented a $1,000 LEEP Award by POLC Executive Committee member Collin Birnie.

like a calling. It’s bigger than me, greater than me.” The 29-year-old graduated from Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA) at Mott Community College Dec. 19, 2019. He was honored with a $1,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award for being the highest scoring candidate (95.74 percent) not sponsored by a police department. “Being able to afford my bills coming up in a couple weeks, it’s going to help me immensely,” Rockwell said. “It was getting down to the wire in the old bank account, especially with Christmas coming up. I can’t thank (LEEP) enough.” He also received a $1,000 F.O.P. Lodge 126 Award. “I had no idea I was getting either of these awards,” he said. Rockwell was one of five non-sponsored cadets out of a graduating class of 18. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University in 2013. During college, an internship at Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department cemented his path. “It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like I was going to work,” Rockwell said. “After my shift was over, I couldn’t wait to go back and start again.” After college, he said, “I was applying to police departments that would sponsor me to go to an academy and I was applying to the State Police as well, and that’s a two-year process. I didn‘t get into any of them and I decided to pay for it myself.” With academy training under his belt and some unexpected help paying for it. He’s ready to “start again.” d

LEEP Award used to buy bullet resistant vest

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor


hen Tyler Groat graduated Oakland Police Academy in December 2019, he had already been hired by Wyandotte Police Department. Groat was honored with a $1,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award at graduation. “(The LEEP Award) greatly helped offset the cost of the academy. I had to pay for it out of pocket and it was a really big investment for me,” Groat said. “I will use it to help me pay for my bulletproof vest that I need for work.” The 25-year-old was one of 38 pre-service cadets in a class of 55 who graduated Dec. 12, 2019. He said he didn’t have time to work during academy. “It’s pretty much like working a full-time job, plus being a student,” he said of the academy. Groat was chosen for the LEEP Award because he excelled in many areas of the academy. “His overall performance in every area of the academy was solid,” said Oakland Police Academy Director David Ceci. “He was a hockey player, so he was physically fit. He did well in firearms. He did very well in defensive tactics. Quite honestly, he is a very respectful young man, just a good person. His fellow classmates, you could tell, really liked him. The instructors really like Tyler a lot too.”

10 • WINTER 2020

“He was in the upper portion of his class (academically),” Ceci said. “This class had an extremely high academic average, and he still was in the top tier of the class.” Groat earned a Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan (U of M) Dearborn with minors in Psychology and Political Science. He was a member of U of M Dearborn Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Groat joined his dad, Wyandotte Police Detective Ken Groat, for his first day as a Wyandotte Police Officer Jan. 8, 2020. “His dad seems like a really good man too,” Ceci said. “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.” d Photo courtesy of Oakland Police Academy

Oakland Police Academy Director David Ceci (left) congratulates graduate Tyler Groat who was honored with a $1,000 LEEP Award.

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