Police Chief Corey O’Donohue and the City Commission took time July 8 to recognize the city’s newest police officers, Kyle Adair and Tony Gagliardi, who bring the department’s ranks to 64 sworn officers.
O’Donohue said later that the department is still 15 officers shy of the authorized amount coming from the passage of the public safety millage in November.
In addition to Adair and Gagliardi, O’Donohue said he had hired another four officers a week earlier that will begin going through the city’s field training, a program he described as “intensive.”
“As we continue to rebuild this police department, I think it’s a good idea to bring these officers in so you can put a name to the face and see how we are progressing,” O’Donohue said to the commission.
Last year, an independent audit of the Police Department found it was understaffed and recommended that the city hire another 11 officers to bring the force to 77 sworn officers.
But the collapse of the housing market has wreaked havoc on housing values and, therefore, gutted the city’s budget. Between 2010 and 2011, the city cut 14 police officers from the force.
After the independent report was published in February 2012, the city decided to see if residents would be willing via millage to front the cost for the needed hiring.
In November, voters passed the 3.975-mill public safety levy, which was projected to bring in almost $8 million annually.
Since then, the department has brought on five sworn officers that have already made it through field training.
O’Donohue said Adair, while in training, was involved in the pursuit of a suspected serial bank robber in April.
“Officer Adair really displayed discipline by keeping his cool while under a lot of pressure during the pursuit,” O’Donohue said.
Gagliardi, he said, helped out a woman whose car had broken down near Woodward Avenue and Coolidge Road. She was so grateful for his help that she wrote the department a letter.
“The woman raved about how patient and kind officer Gagliardi treated her, and that was really good to hear,” O’Donohue said. “That tells me they are being trained the right way.”
Mayor Jim Ellison welcomed them to the force.
“Based on what the chief was saying, I think we’re off to a really good start,” Ellison said. “As the chief says, it bodes well for the type of training you’ve received, but it also bodes well for you two as individuals, and we’re very happy to have you on the Royal Oak police force.”