Police chief calls it a day after 30 years

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — When Police Chief Dale Tamsen first started wearing a Taylor badge in 1987, he was well aware that the city’s reputation had its share of ups and downs.

“People would talk about ‘Sin City’ or ‘Crack Ridge,’” Tamsen said. “I’ve seen it go both ways, from boom town to tough economic times.”

The decision to retire after more than 30 years in law enforcement, however, had nothing to do with difficult days on the job — and Tamsen endured challenges that few face. Last month Tamsen informed Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand and the city council that he will step down from the post effective Oct. 28.

“After some long discussions with my wife, it was time,” Tamsen said. “I want to spend more time with my family. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m leaving a lot of good friends, but it was time.”

Born and raised in Allen Park, Tamsen first practiced law enforcement in Phoenix before moving back to Michigan in the late 1970s. He spent time with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and Plymouth Police before joining the Taylor department in February 1987. An advocate of community policing, Tamsen supervised the Special Operations Bureau before accepting the Chief position in 2006.

“Community policing is the basis of police work,” Tamsen said, “doing foot patrol, talking to the people and knowing what goes on.”

Tamsen was a familiar face on the streets of the city’s south end through challenging times in Taylor.

“We had relationships and knew who the good guys were and the bad guys,” Tamsen said. “That’s the core of police work. It’s not just reducing crime but increasing a quality of living for people. That’s our job.”

Tamsen said his career ran a wide spectrum, from administrative work to community policing to being a presence in struggling neighborhoods. Few tasks can match the difficulty of breaking tragic news to the wife of Cpl. Matthew Edwards that her husband was killed in the line of duty in 2010 .

“(It was) the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Tamsen said. “Hopefully no one will ever have to do that again. Those were difficult times for everyone, but you find out through the tragedies how well everyone pulls together.”

Tamsen’s job will be takn by either Cmdr. John Blair or Cmdr. Mary Sclabasi, a decision yet to be made by Lamarand. Tamsen said either would make a fine chief, reflective of the admiration he holds for the department he proudly served. Although the job presented harsh challenges over the years, Tamsen said the best memories he will take with him into retirement involve the people with whom he served.

“Working with the guys here, from day one until I retire, are good memories that will last a lifetime,” Tamsen said. “We did some great police work here.”

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