Southgate top cop talks about department’s future

Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – Having six weeks in the police chief seat, Brett Selby has identified some of the changes he wants to make to ensure the department’s well-being.

Working with Public Safety Director Jeff Smith, who was the previous police chief for four years, the pair made a list of changes they would like to pursue with the command and patrol officers.

“Law enforcement is ever-changing, always evolving, especially when it comes to technology,” Selby said. “The administrative aspect of the department requires a lot of attention managing the day-to-day operations as well as the long-term planning of the Police Department.

“One minute you could be working on a long-term project and the next minute you are changing gears for an issue that needs immediate attention and then, off to a meeting.”

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, Smith and Selby will be busy.

Selby thinks he is a good fit for the job because he has worked his way up the ranks in his 22 years with the department.

His education includes a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, a Master of Public Safety and Emergency Management degree from Eastern Michigan University and a Graduate of Police Staff and Command from EMU.

“There are a lot of good leaders within this police department in both command and patrol,” Selby said.
“Police officers (must) be disciplined self-managers and the organizational leadership roles are vested in every officer to make a difference.

“It is not the schooling, the classes, (or) the seminars that make good leaders, it’s the way that information is used once it is learned and presented to the organization as either an inspiration or a detriment.”

Selby grew up in Southfield and remembers “Officer Ron,” from the department who spoke at Selby’s school. Selby said Officer Ron let him run the sirens and sit in the police car.

“I knew at an early age I wanted to be a police officer,” Selby said.

Selby’s father was in the Navy and Selby has several extended family members in law enforcement, including a cousin who is a retired chief from the Marquette Police Department.

Selby has been a lieutenant for the past four years and has had time to disconnect from being on the road.
“I miss it,” he said of the life of a patrol officer. “The officers on the road are the ones who make things happen. They do the heavy lifting.”

But Selby hasn’t been slacking. He said the command staff coordinates the activities of the department and manages the daily operations.

Thus, the city is a safer community, he said.

When asked about what the city faces in terms of crime, Selby said, “Statistically we deal mainly in minor property crimes and petty theft issues.

“We are a safe community because of the hard work of the officers do day and night. Our officers take pride in their work and community as other officers do across the country. As a profession, we only ask for your support and confidence moving forward.”

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at