O’Rourke posthumously awarded sergeant status

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published October 5, 2012

WEST BLOOMFIELD — The Township Board of Trustees unanimously awarded a promotion to deceased officer Patrick O’Rourke and a compensation plan for his family Oct. 1.

According to officials, the promotion makes O’Rourke a sergeant retroactive to Sept. 8 — the day before he was fatally shot.

O’Rourke was shot Sept. 9 while responding to a report of gunfire at a West Bloomfield home, making him the first on-duty fatality in the West Bloomfield Police Department’s history. O’Rourke was 39 and an officer for 12 years. He left behind his wife, Amy, and their four children.

Police Chief Michael Patton said O’Rourke had an innate leadership ability, but the department’s size constraints made it difficult for officers to undergo the formal process of working up the ranks.

“Given his seniority, his experience, he would’ve brought all that forward, (and) he would’ve been the eventual recipient of a promotion like that,” Patton said. “Eventually, someone in the department has to rise up to that level, and Pat would have been one of those individuals.”

Trustee Steven Kaplan asked Patton if anyone had considered naming the Police Department building after O’Rourke. The chief replied that it hadn’t been raised, but he said it’s not out of the realm of consideration.

Trustee Larry Brown said he is also inquiring with the Road Commission for Oakland County about making a strip of Walnut Lake Road, between Orchard Lake and Farmington roads, a secondary road with O’Rourke’s name on it.

Trustee Howard Rosenberg expressed his sorrow on behalf of himself and the residents. “It’s been an emotional time for all of us,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity to speak with the family. As (Oakland County) Commissioner Marcia Gershenson said, the courage and strength that Amy shows is incredible.”

During the meeting, the board discussed and unanimously approved a deal for O’Rourke’s pension and benefits.

Township labor attorney Howard Shifman said the deal takes the tax-free duty death benefit and enhances it significantly, as if O’Rourke had 25 years of service. Line-of-duty death normally awards two-thirds of the base salary, but he said the agreement bumped that up to 68.75 percent. The agreement also boosted the lump-sum payments from 50 percent to 100 percent and covers health care for the spouse and children.

Shifman said the provisions are legitimate, adding that he has seen them in other collective bargaining agreements.

Kaplan wished that the death never had to occur. “No amount of money could properly compensate or justify,” Kaplan said. “I wish he were here.”

Learn more about Sgt. Patrick O’Rourke at www.westbloomfieldhero.com.