ROSEVILLE — On Jan. 22, the parking lot outside Roseville City Hall was packed.
The crowd filled the seating area inside City Council chambers and spilled out to the back of the room, where small groups stood huddled behind the last row of chairs.
Police officers and firefighters lined the rear wall, and when Mayor John Chirkun called the meeting to order at 7 p.m., a few of them, dressed in pressed navy blue suits, stepped forward.
The Roseville Honor Guard doesn’t usually kick off council meetings, but this meeting wasn’t an ordinary meeting. They were there to pay tribute to crime-solving officers and heroic citizens.
“The Police Department is only as strong as our civilian support,” said Police Chief James Berlin before proceeding with the award ceremony, where three civilians and 12 officers were awarded citations, and four officers and two citizens were awarded medals for their service and valor.
Guardian of the block
Roseville resident Theresa Rieschick was sitting at home one afternoon last fall, when she noticed a suspicious character slowly making his way down her block. Something about him just didn’t sit right with her, so she kept an eye on him as he walked from house to house and eventually broke into her neighbor’s residence.
Reischick immediately phoned the police, but before officers were able to arrive, the suspect crept back out of the house and began fleeing the area on foot.
“Theresa kept him in eyesight, the whole time talking to our dispatchers, and we were able to catch this individual,” Berlin said.
“At the time that this incident occurred, our north end of town was being hit with a rash of home invasions, as was the southern end of Clinton Township. As a result of her actions, and us being able to catch this guy, we solved over 30 home invasions and recovered thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise.”
Rachel Peterson, who accepted the citizen citation on behalf of her father, was attacked by carjackers early on a Sunday morning while she and her father, Billy Peterson, were out delivering newspapers.
“When she exited her vehicle to take a newspaper up to a home, two individuals came up behind her and struck her in the head and knocked her to the ground so they could steal her car,” Berlin said. “Her father, Billy, was also in the area, ran to his daughter’s aid, made sure she was OK, and then began searching the area, looking for the suspects and her car.”
Billy Peterson found the carjackers just a few blocks away, and, while on the phone with the police, was able to detail their location and appearances. Responding officers set up a perimeter and one of the suspects was immediately arrested. The other fled the area, but a K-9 unit tracked him to a location several blocks away, where he, too, was arrested.
“As a result of Billy’s actions, two carjackers were arrested and both are facing long prison terms at this time,” Berlin added.
Running toward calls of distress
When he heard a woman screaming, Joseph Byer, an employee at Kaul’s Funeral Home, ran toward the sound of the frantic cries for help.
A woman was being carjacked. Byer ran to her aid as the suspect struck her several times in the head, causing severe injuries. As Byer ran toward the car, the suspect fled, first attempting to steal another nearby vehicle, and when that failed, he fled on foot. Byer chased the armed suspect for several blocks while on the phone with dispatch, providing a description of the suspect and the location.
“(The suspect) eventually went over to Jasen’s Furniture and stole a delivery truck from Jasen’s,” Berlin said. “But because of Mr. Byer’s quick action and quick thinking and sound description, responding officers were able to track the vehicle down and arrest this individual.”
For his actions that day, Byer was awarded the citizens medal of valor.
Drug bust leads to child porn bust
“Most of the times when you see police officers on TV, they are these rather hardened, cynical guys that nothing ever affects, and it’s most certainly not the truth,” Berlin said as he called Detective Michael Demick to the front of the room to receive an officers citation.
The Roseville Police Department narcotics unit was working a tip on the north end of the city when two of the individuals involved drove to a school in Fraser and a drug deal took place, Berlin said. The person buying the drugs was a teacher at the school. He was arrested, and in the course of the investigation, police found evidence of child pornography on his phone, Berlin said.
“As a result of that, a very long, drawn-out investigation actually took place, where the Southeastern Michigan Crimes Against Children FBI taskforce actually came in to assist us,” Berlin said.
It was Demick’s job to have to go through the suspect’s computer to look for child pornography.
“It would make any of us sick, but as a father and a parent, which Michael is, it just makes it that much harder,” Berlin said. “He spent three weeks. That’s all he did, eight hours a day for three weeks, searching this guy’s computer to find evidence against this individual, but as a result of Detective Demick’s diligence, hard work and dedication, we were able to put this case together.”
Reportedly, the suspect is in jail awaiting sentencing.
Dedication and observation
While investigating a home vandalism, where the suspects kicked holes in the drywall, dumped paint all over the room and damaged the plumbing fixtures, officer Christopher Kment showed heartfelt dedication.
“Instead of just taking the report and calling it a day, he canvassed the neighborhood looking for suspects that might be involved,” Berlin said. “As he is searching the neighborhood, he comes across a young lady, who of course denied all involvement in the crime, but in her hair was remnants of the paint.”
The suspect was arrested and, after being interrogated, agreed to give up the names of her two accomplices. In court, the three were ordered to repay all of the $11,000 in damages they caused.
Kment and Detective Stephan Dzeierzawski, who handled the interrogation, were both awarded citations.
The right thing, no matter what
For acting courageously and upholding the virtue to save lives (no matter what) officers James Walton, Gregory Moore, Thomas Bender and Joseph McCann received medals for distinguished service.
“Early last year, one of the most horrendous things that can happen to a police officer during the course of his career (occurred): We were forced to take a human life,” Berlin said.
The officers responded to a call reporting a suicidal man who wanted police casualties to accompany him to the grave. Despite their efforts to apprehend the man without incident, the suspect opened fire on the officers. The officers were forced to fire back.
“The man was fatally wounded, but the officers involved, not wishing to take a human life, immediately began CPR in an effort to save this man’s life, even though he had attempted to take their own,” Berlin said.
Officers Brian Dobrzycki and Jeremy Scicluna were honored with officer citations for their role in spotting and helping to pull over an armed robber. Officer Edward Kleinedler and Detective Bradley McKenzie were awarded citations for their roles in the identification, tracking and arrest of an armed shoplifter who shot and injured two loss-prevention agents at Kmart while fleeing the store with stolen goods.
Sgt. Stephen Star was awarded a citation for his role in saving the life of a young woman who attempted suicide while being held in the Roseville Jail. Berlin’s brother, Detective Lt. Mitchell Berlin, received a citation for quickly and efficiently executing an investigation in a single day the led to the bust of a local biker gang’s stash of illegal drugs, weapons and long guns. Sgt. Brian Shock and retired Sgt. Keith Waller were honored for tracking a bank robber to a crack house in Detroit. While undercover in the narcotics unit, Detective Jason Otto identified items from a recent robbery and, through his efforts, a family was reunited with their stolen puppy.
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