Heights police chief retiring after 38 years serving department

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Police Chief Lee Gavin told the city council and residents he is retiring after 10 years as the head of the department during the Oct. 23 City Council meeting.

“As you know this is my last council meeting so I just want to come up here and express that I’ve had a very enjoyable career, 38 years with the city of Dearborn Heights,” Gavin said during the meeting. “I grew up in this city, I grew up with this city. I just wanted to come here tonight and thank all the residents of our community.”

Deputy Chief Dan Voltattorni will move up the rank as the new chief after a change of command ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Dearborn Heights Justice Center. Mark Plawecki, 20th District Court judge, will perform the ceremony.

Gavin was sworn in as the city’s 11th police chief May 30, 2008, after working with the department since February 1980. He is a lifelong resident of the city and is a graduate of Crestwood High School.

“Hopefully over those 38 years I touched and I did good for somebody, somewhere, I’m sure I did,” Gavin said. “I want to thank all the people that I’ve worked with, all the numerous officers, the fire department, council, especially Mayor (Dan) Paletko.
“He’s been the mayor over my 10 years as police chief. He let’s us run the department with our experience the way we should. If something is out of line, sure he gets involved, but he let’s us run — we’ve got years of experience, years of training.”

According to the city’s website, Gavin holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Wayne State University and a master of liberal studies degree from Eastern Michigan University.
He is also a graduate of EMU’s School of Police Staff and Command.

Voltattorni began his career in law enforcement as a police cadet in 1987 and served in multiple capacities since then, according to the Police Department’s press release.

Voltattorni served as a patrolman, Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force officer, Uniform Division lieutenant in charge of special investigations, Tactical Response Unit commander, supervisor of the Department’s Directed Patrol Unit and Uniform Division captain in 2013.
He earned the title of deputy chief in 2017.
“It’s not an easy job,” Gavin said. “I think you all I know I try to be open to everyone, I try to answer your calls — everybody we try to work as a team. In the future, Chief Voltattorni is going to take over. I just hope the community, the council, the administration, everybody gives him the support that they gave me over the last 10 years as chief. He’ll do a good job.”
Gavin thanked the residents and city for working with him over his 38 years.
“I’ve truly enjoyed my career serving the residents of Dearborn Heights,” he said. “Like I said, I grew up here in the city, went to Crestwood, went to college and I’m ending my career here. I want to assure all our residents that the department is in good hands with Chief Voltattorni and Deputy Chief Mike Petri and Capt. Mark Meyers, Capt. Rory McManmon. We’re going in the right direction and we have a good crew.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)