Ferndale fires veteran police officer, chief to retire

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 10, 2018

 Collins

Collins

FERNDALE  — In an unexpected announcement, Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins will retire Friday, April 13.

The news of Collins’ retirement, which he announced at the April 9 City Council meeting, was followed the next day with the announcement of the firing of a 25-year veteran of the Ferndale Police Department for “continual and repeated rule and regulation violations,” according to a statement.

The statement released by the city said allegations were made against the officer — who was not named — in February, for which he later was charged by the Police Department, after an internal investigation, with regulation violations including unbecoming conduct, insubordination, inattention to duty and incompetence.

“We take matters like this very seriously,” City Manager April Lynch said in the statement. “We expect the best from all city employees, and perhaps from our members of law enforcement most of all; they are entrusted by our community to serve and protect and to do so with the highest level of conduct, honesty and integrity.”

Capt. Vincent Palazzolo will serve as interim police chief beginning April 13.

It is not known if the termination of the police officer had anything to do with Collins’ retirement after 40 years in the department. Mayor David Coulter declined to answer if the City Council had asked Collins to submit his resignation.

Collins’ departure followed several departmental incidents in recent years, including a now former Ferndale officer’s arrest and no contest plea to misdemeanor assault and battery for using excessive force during an arrest in April 2016; an incident where a Roseville police officer, suspected of drunken driving, was driven home instead of arrested in November 2017; and a recent WDIV television report that Collins in April 2016 did not ticket a 70-year-old motorist and mother of a Detroit police officer who reportedly registered twice the legal limit in a sobriety test.

Collins could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the statement, Coulter said Lynch will lead a formal review of the Police Department to look at “current policies and procedures, and to identify what new measures, training and cultural shifts need to be implemented to help prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future.”

Coulter commented on Collins’ retirement in the statement.

“He has always put his department and the city first, and it is in that typical spirit that he has concluded. And I agree that new leadership during this review would be more effective,” Coulter stated.

Ferndale Director of Communications Kara Sokol said that the veteran officer’s firing, which was official April 2, came after a number of disciplinary measures in recent years.

“That particular officer had several issues in the past … and then each time his discipline was brought to the next level,” she said. “He had an initial discipline and then a compounded discipline for the second issue, and then on the third issue, he was fired.”

Sokol would not disclose what incident led to the firing of the officer, as it was “a personnel matter.”

Lynch said in the statement that the city hopes procedural disciplinary measures will help correct an issue, “particularly in an officer with such a lengthy tenure.”

“Unfortunately, and in hindsight, that was not the case here,” she said.

Coulter said in the statement that this firing is an example — “the most recent in a series of examples” — of an individual member of the Police Department not living up to the values that the community expects.

“I am deeply disappointed by this officer’s behavior,” Coulter stated. “Incidents like these have the potential to affect the community trust that is so critical to effective law enforcement.”