Policing runs in blood of Fraser family

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 2, 2018

 Bill Prince pins the badge on his son Max’s uniform Nov. 30 when Max graduated from the Michigan State Police 133rd Trooper Recruit School.

Bill Prince pins the badge on his son Max’s uniform Nov. 30 when Max graduated from the Michigan State Police 133rd Trooper Recruit School.

Photo provided by Rose Prince

 Bill Prince, a longtime Michigan State Police officer, holds Max when he was a child.

Bill Prince, a longtime Michigan State Police officer, holds Max when he was a child.

Photo provided by Rose Prince

FRASER — Bill Prince is a detective sergeant with the Michigan State Police. He will be celebrating 31 years on the job this February. He started back in 1987 as a trooper at the MSP’s Flat Rock Post prior to being promoted and working in the southwest corner of the state at the Niles Post.

After going through the training academy and offering his expertise to recruits for a couple of years, he moved to Fraser, and he and his wife, Rose, had a son, Max.

It’s a police-oriented family, with Max’s aunt and uncle working for a police department in the Grosse Pointes, while Rose works for the Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory in Sterling Heights. 

Bill’s father was a Detroit policeman for 31 years, spending time in the Youth Services Bureau and then at the Detroit Control Center. He was later diagnosed with cancer, prompting Bill to want his newborn son to get to know his grandfather.

“I kind of grew up with (my dad being a police officer),” said Bill who, after attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, worked in downtown Chicago for a mere three days before realizing his own life mission also involved being in the police force.

When Max was born, he was given a trooper teddy bear. Bill joked that it was likely that he and Rose etched a path for their little man.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and there is proof that the teddy bear trick worked after all: On Nov. 30 Max Prince, 22, graduated from the MSP 133rd Trooper Recruit School.

A 26-week training course began June 4 in Dimondale, not too far from Lansing. 

Max, who graduated from De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, recalled growing up and learning about his grandfather from his own father. Bill always told Max there was something special about being a state trooper, that it offered a sense of pride.

“You kind of grow up and you say, ‘State police, state police, state police’ and being proud of it,” Max said. “I saw that every day watching my dad. I was pretty dead set on being a trooper. I never wanted to be anything else.”

Max received a criminal justice degree from Central Michigan University before enlisting in trooper school. Throughout his 26-week course, he learned defensive tactics, how to use firearms, legal training methodologies, water safety and academics, and he engaged in physical training every day.

“It’s like, (if) you want to be a state trooper, you have to talk a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way,” Max said. “They instill a lot of pride while you’re there.”

Nov. 30 was an emotional day for not only Bill and Max, but for the entire family. It became even more demonstrative once a current trooper gave up his badge number so Max could have the same number as his father.

“It’s hard to explain,” Bill said. “You go from being the child of a policeman, and when you become aware of the dangers of the job as a young adult, you wonder about your parent. And then when you go down that path yourself, you just kind of do your job and you’re cautious about what you’re doing. There’s not the worry involved because it’s your career.

“Now I’m back at the stage where I’m concerned with my young one — one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Max said being dressed in the same uniform at the same time in the same department was “the best feeling in the world.”

When each was asked about the biggest piece of advice they gave or received, the response was the same: Do what’s right, do your best, and treat others like you want to be treated. It’s a phrase that is not only etched on the wall of the police academy, but also inside of Bill’s wallet.

Bill, who committed to a six-year deferred retirement program after 25 years on the job, will call it a career June 1, 2018. He said he will most miss the people in the department, developing relationships with them and getting to know their families. It’s about having one another’s back, he said, because sometimes your life literally rests in their hands.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said, adding that he recently filled out his first job application in 33 years. “I’ve had a wonderful career and I’d wish my career on anybody. But, I don’t jump fences as fast as I used to. I don’t run as fast as I used to. It’s a young man’s position.”

As for his son, Bill said he has always been proud of the man he has become and continues to be.

“(Max is) a good kid and always stayed out of trouble,” he said. “He’s motivated, he’s got pride, applies himself in everything he does. I imagine he will have a very successful career.”

Max, whose first day on the job involved covering Washtenaw and Livingston counties as part of the Brighton Post, just wants to make his dad proud.

“I would say we’re really close; father-son close,” Max said. “He reminds me he’s not my friend. He’s my dad and I look up to him.”