Today was an emotional day – in a good way- here at the PD as we celebrated the retirement of 3 of our long-term staff: Sergeant Steve Groehn, Sergeant Mike O’Hala and Detective Ron Tuski.
I think we figured out that among them they have served the city for 71 years. A great legacy.
Today was the day their families, friends, co workers and retired co workers came together to wish them well on their last day.
As I watch them go, I think about how we met, 20 years ago when I came here as the deputy chief of police. They were young and none were yet supervisors and Ron wasn’t a detective. Although I’d been a command officer before in another department, they taught me a lot about how to do the job. Each of them did it in their own style but always with care, compassion and the highest of ethics. They were thoughtful when it was important to be thoughtful–when they were contemplating people’s lives in the field. They were full of action when it was time to take action to keep a situation from going from bad to worse. It was interesting that the 2 sergeants commented that one of the things they were grateful for was that they were able to send the members of their shifts home safety every day–no one was ever seriously injured or worse.
I know they have all been thinking about their legacies in the last few months because they each talked to me about it. They were thinking about what they wanted to leave for the people who take their places (well, no one exactly takes their places–they are each so unique). I’ve been hearing Mike on the radio working with his day shift crew in the field more than usual lately. He has been making traffic stops and going on runs. His son, Reid, was here today dressed in his Marine Corps blues out of respect for his dad.
We could all see how proud Mike is of his son. Mike made a special request of me–he asked me if he could pass along his badge to his replacement himself. He said that he would feel better knowing that he had not left his post unmanned–that he had passed his responsibility on. So Officer Bryan Eftink, who will be promoted to sergeant on November 1st, received his sergeant’s badge directly from Sgt. O’Hala, who had also given him his gun and equipment on his very first day as an officer.
Sgt Groehn has been passing along his knowledge of recruit officer training to Sgt. Stoinski who is taking over the field training program. On the day he gave me his letter telling me that he was retiring he said that he’d had the letter for 2 weeks and just hadn’t been able to bring himself to turn it in. His family told me how he had dreamed of being a police officer since he was a small boy. It was very clear how proud they are of him. He told me that he’d been bringing his young kids into the station as much as he could lately, so they would remember when he was a cop. He won the Chief’s Award a few years ago for his work on our Highway Incident Management program. I’m convinced his work improved the lives of commuters who pass through Auburn Hills and made us safer when officers work on the roadways–a top danger to police officers across the country.
And Detective Tuski gave his last talk to high school kids today in Oxford with Judge Nicholson. Ron’s parents, his brother and his grandmother were all killed when they were in a car struck by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve, the year he became a police officer. The chief (my predecessor) was the person who had to deliver the message to him because he was on duty. For all these years he has gone to schools with our local judges about the story of his family’s tragedy. I’m sure they would be proud today to see what a success he has made of his career and his life.
I could go on and on about these three as I could about our entire staff. This community is fortunate to have a staff of such excellent quality who is so devoted to this community and this profession. But I’ll close this post with the words of PSO Quentessa Tuff. She gave the last radio sign off for these three professionals.
City units hold the air –
Tears for a few good cops fill our station today
Luckily these are tears of joy!
It has been an interesting run and great life experience.
Each of you have a special spot that we will hold dear to all of us.
As you leave today just remember you’ll be truly missed and the halls here at Auburn Hills Police Department will never be the same.
Congratulations and Happy Retirement to Det. Tuski, Sgt. Groehn and Sgt Ohala.
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