Promotion of officer raise residents’ suspicions

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — The promotion of three police officers within the department raised residents’ eyebrows as they became more skeptical of the recently approved public safety millage.

Many residents have said they were misinformed about the true intentions of the millage. Resident Tim O’Brien addressed the council about those concerns and the way the council, mayor, and emergency manager presented the millage to voters.

“It was very disingenuous because it was not a public safety millage,” O’Brien said. “It was a flat-out tax increase. You could have at least been candid enough to make that point in the first place.”

He said he wanted all residents to know where their public safety money is being used. The millage was supposed to allow the department to keep it’s current staffing, he said, but three officers received raises and the city still has to pay for “outrageous pensions.”

City officials said the point of the millage was to dedicate more money to pay for the Police and Fire departments that would otherwise have continued to be taken out of the general fund. The additional $2 million increased the dedicated public safety fund to about $4.6 million. That money is applied to the cost of running the two departments, Emergency Manager Joyce Parker said, and the new millage frees up $2 million in the general fund to spend on other city services.

The three officers — Wayne Albright, William Mehall, and Michael Hillock — have served the city for 52 years collectively. Albright and Mehal, who were promoted to sergeant, started their careers with the department in 1994. Hillock was appointed to lieutenant.

Albright was the department’s first K-9 handler and served with his K-9, Magnum, for almost 10 years before Magnum was retired. He was selected to serve as an undercover officer for the area’s narcotic task force and took on the duties of firearm instructor, field training officer, and defensive tactics instructor before his promotion.

Mehal started his career as a patrol officer, then was transferred to the Detective Bureau in 2009. He also served as the department’s vehicle inspector, field training officer, and firearms instructor.

Hillock began in 1999 and was promoted to sergeant in 2008. He was promoted to the vacant lieutenant after performing his regular duties and serving as the department’s firearm specialist and coordinator of police auctions of seized and forfeited vehicles.

“As you know my home position, as lieutenant, has remained vacant now for almost two years, as I served as interim police chief,” newly appointed Police Chief James Wilkewitz said. “The promotions are about the reorganization of the Allen Park Police Department to make it a more efficient entity in servicing the city.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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