Police Chief Sclabassi announces retirement

Photo courtesy of the city of Taylor Police Chief Mary Sclabassi

Photo courtesy of the city of Taylor
Police Chief Mary Sclabassi

For the Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Police Chief Mary Sclabassi announced her retirement this week after 23 years of service to the city. Her last day will be July 30.

Executive Commander John Blair was appointed acting police chief by Mayor Rick Sollars, effectively immediately, and will work through the transition with Sclabassi through the end of the month. Sollars said the city will perform a wide-ranging search for a new police chief.

“Mary has been a credit to the Taylor Police Department, and she will be greatly missed,” Sollars said. “She’s been an outstanding chief and a good friend, and I think I speak for everyone in the community when I say that we all wish her well in the future.”

Sclabassi — appointed police chief in October 2012 by late Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand — has been active over the past four-and-a-half years, adding staffing and programs to what had been a depleted police force. The recession of 2008-09 weighed heavily on city services, and the police force was no exception, with staffing dipping to all-time lows in 2013.

She with the new administration and City Council to greatly re-establish law enforcement’s presence in the community by a variety of techniques, some new and some old, and was very successful in obtaining many competitive grants for staffing and equipment.

Under her guidance, the department added a motorcycle patrol to give the department more flexibility, increased its number of K-9 units, and purchased new vehicles. The city added a school liaison program, putting three officers directly into the Taylor School District on a regular basis. That move also ignited programs like “Safety Town,” explorers and the youth police academy.

Another program that took hold under her guidance was the “Taylor on Watch” campaign, an anti-crime, educational movement that created a synergy between the department and the community with the goal of making everyone in Taylor more active and more aware. She also instituted the use of crime mapping.

Born and raised in Allen Park, Sclabassi was the department’s ninth police chief. She joined the department in 1994 as a patrol officer. After two years on patrol, she was selected to the Michigan State Police Downriver narcotics task force, serving for two years. Returning to the department, she was promoted to corporal in 1999 and worked as a detective in the Investigation Services Division until 2001, when she was promoted to sergeant.

Eight years later, she was promoted to lieutenant in charge of the Detective Bureau after serving as commander of the Investigation Services Division.

She received several departmental awards and commendations including the Mayor’s Medal in 1995 for her involvement in a case involving the corruption of a Downriver court clerk, as well as a Unit Commendation Medal from the Farmington Hills Police Department, and Merit Awards from the Michigan State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A member of the Wayne County Detectives Association, Michigan Crime Prevention Association of Michigan, and the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association, Sclabassi also serves on the Wayne County Sexual Assault Collaborative and is on the planning board of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Detroit and was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the state Prescription Drug & Opioid Abuse Task Force.  She was also named chairperson of the Downriver Mutual Aid police services in April.

Blair is a longtime member of the force. He started his career with the department in 1991, and worked various assignments including road patrol, SWAT, field training officer, firearms instructor, investigations, special operations and traffic division. He has also served in a supervisory position as a road patrol, K-9 and special operations sergeant and lieutenant of the traffic division, and commander of the patrol division, firearm training unit, traffic division and special support services section.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Police School of Staff and Command.  He has been a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards-certified firearm instructor since 1997 as well a state-certified concealed pistol license instructor since 2002.

He also has served as program director of two Federal Cooperative Agreements with the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Blair was selected twice as the department’s Officer of the Year (1999 and 2008) and the Police Officer Association of Michigan Officer of the Year in 2008.