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St. Clair Shores

September 11, 2013

Deputy Chief retiring from Police Department

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

ST. CLAIR SHORES — After 27 years with the city, Deputy Police Chief Glenn Bowlin will say goodbye to the St. Clair Shores Police Department Sept. 12.

Bowlin, who has been deputy chief since July 2010, will retire after serving time as the commander of the special investigations bureau, a road patrol lieutenant, shift commander, detective sergeant in criminal investigations and as a road patrol sergeant.

As the first person hired in 1987 after a nearly seven-year hiring freeze, he began as a road patrol officer — a position he held for 13 years before he was first promoted.

“The department has changed a lot since then,” he said. “We didn’t have the best equipment. There was a lot of dissention among the troops.”

In his decades on the force, however, Bowlin said he has seen better leadership and better-educated commanders lead to improvements in the department. He himself was able to attend the FBI National Academy — which only 1 percent of all sworn law enforcement officers in the world are able to do — where he learned leadership and media-relations skills, as well as interrogation and interview techniques.

“I was able to bring that back to some of the new guys over here,” he said. “It was the best training I’ve ever had, by far.”

In the 1980s, he said, he and Police Chief Michael Walleman were scout car partners.

“I’ve been really blessed to work with him because he treats me as a second chief,” Bowlin said. “I have nothing but good things to say about the administration that’s here now. I expect nothing but great things from this place in the future.”

Walleman said Bowlin actually began on the force a few years before he did; Walleman said he felt lucky when the two were paired together.

“Glenn and I seemed to hit it off right from the beginning, and we became fast friends, not only as police partners but as friends after work,” Walleman said.

He said, as partners at the head of the department and on the road, they have had a chemistry that allowed them to work well together.

“We knew exactly what each other was going to do and that kept us both safe,” he said. “It’s a camaraderie that is between him and I (that) was very special, and our careers took different paths as we advanced through the ranks and things, but that never diminished our friendship.”

Walleman called Bowlin’s advancement through the ranks of the St. Clair Shores Police Department “stellar” and attributed 50 percent of everything they have accomplished together to Bowlin.

“We’re of like minds and work in unison and help each other out, and when you have that working ability with somebody, things get accomplished more quickly and with greater ease,” he said.

A case that stands out in Bowlin’s mind is the 2003 murder of Shirley Perry in the apartments at Nine Mile Road and Jefferson Avenue.

“We worked that continually for two weeks, nonstop,” he said. They were able to “find a couple suspects and arrest them, and now they’re serving life in jail, so it was a good case we all worked together.”

Bowlin, now 52, said working in St. Clair Shores since he was 26 years old led to some wonderful opportunities, but he knew it was time to move on.

“The city is in a different direction with their command staff,” he said. “I just decided it’s time to go after that decision.”

In July, City Council approved changes to Administrative Regulation 4, which covers non-union employees, including the police and fire chiefs, deputy police chief, community development director, assistant city manager, city clerk, finance director and the executive assistant to the city manager. That change altered the group’s pension provision, which now reads that “anyone moving into a position covered by this regulation shall not be eligible for participation in either of the city’s defined benefit pension programs.”

That change was made to give the city more flexibility in hiring for those positions, allowing it to consider outside candidates if no internal candidates wanted to “freeze” their defined benefit pension and enter the defined contribution system for the position.

As to what will happen with the position now, Walleman said that is largely in the hands of the city manager. Because St. Clair Shores is still a community governed by Act 78, which contains guidelines as to how a police agency conducts its business with regards to promotions, prior vacancies in leadership roles have been filled from within.

“We both went through the process,” he said of he and Bowlin. “We were first and second on the list, and that’s how the chief and deputy chief’s positions were filled. That may be in question now.

“I’m not sure how that will play out.”

City Manager Phillip Ludos said he still expects the position will be posted internally, as usual, and qualified applicants will be able to test for the spot.

“Having been in Chief Walleman’s position, I appreciate that position. It has to be the most highly qualified person to fill that position,” he said.

The only way the search would be filled by an external candidate, he said, would be if no one in the St. Clair Shores Police Department applied to take, or passed, the test. He doesn’t think there should be a lack of qualified candidates, though.

“I’ve met several of the lieutenants over there, and the ones I’ve met, I’ve been impressed with their level of competence,” Ludos said.

Walleman said until the spot is filled, it will be difficult for him as chief because he will be losing his “right-hand man.”

“Just because he’s retiring doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t have to get accomplished.”

For the first few months of retirement, Bowlin said, he’ll be playing “Mr. Mom” to his 9-year-old daughter, but he doesn’t expect that to last. His wife works as a police officer for the Fraser Department of Public Safety.

“I will not stay retired,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.