Police honor top cops and fallen officers

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 19, 2015

 The Troy Police Department presented awards to Officer Janice Pokley (2014 Officer of the Year), Sgt. Scott Smith (2014 Command Officer of the Year) and administrative employee Paula Bratto (Non-Sworn Employee of the Year).

The Troy Police Department presented awards to Officer Janice Pokley (2014 Officer of the Year), Sgt. Scott Smith (2014 Command Officer of the Year) and administrative employee Paula Bratto (Non-Sworn Employee of the Year).

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The Troy Police Department honored those who protect and serve, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice at the Troy Police Memorial Day Ceremony in front of Police Headquarters May 14.

“I thought about how difficult a time it is to be a police officer at a time everyone in the police is being questioned,” said Troy Mayor Dane Slater, referring to the unrest following police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and incident in Baltimore.

“It’s time to take back our image,” said Slater, who retired as a Troy police captain. “Law enforcement is an honorable and noble profession. They volunteer every day to run toward danger when everyone else runs away. Let’s work hard together ... to bring back that trust.”

“It’s a difficult time for law enforcement,” said Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer.

He paid tribute to Troy police officer Charles Smetana, 33, who was killed trying to help people injured in a car accident in 1969; officer Martin Chivas, 24, who was shot and killed investigating a burglary in 1974; officer Charles Mulvihill, who died of apparent heart failure while answering a call for service in 2001; and police service aide Stephanie Steele, who died in a crash caused by a drunken driver in 1999.

Officer Janice Pokley was chosen as the 2014 Officer of the Year. She has been with the department for 20 years. Her husband, Greg, also serves as an officer for the Troy Police Department.

“I always knew I wanted to be a police officer,” Pokley said.

She is a communications services officer and coordinates the Citizens On Patrol program, a group of citizen volunteers who patrol the city in their own vehicles on their own time. She started as a road patrol officer, joined the investigations section as a juvenile detective and joined the community services section in 2012.

“Janice is a great representative of the Troy Police Department, and we are proud to have her act as the face of Troy P.D. as she interacts with so many different citizens in her duties,” Mayer said in a prepared statement.  

Pokley said she pursued police work because of the variety, the chance “to deal with all sorts of different people and to make things better.”

“I like getting involved with organizations and community groups,” she said.

She added that her biggest challenge is to accommodate everyone who calls. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University and a master’s in human resources and administration from Central Michigan University.

She praised the COP program.

“They’re really good people,” she said.

The Troy Police Department selected Sgt. Scott Smith as the 2014 Command Officer of the Year. He’s been with the Troy Police Department for 20 years, and worked six years before that with the Clawson Police Department.

He said he went into police work to “help people who can’t help themselves.”

He has served on the tactical support team, the special investigations unit, the directed patrol unit and on traffic safety. He currently works as a road patrol sergeant. He attended Northern Michigan University and wanted to be an officer with the Department of Natural Resources, but was drawn into law enforcement classes. He also attended the Oakland Police Academy at Oakland Community College.

He said his favorite part of the job is “interacting with the people who work for me.”

He said the biggest challenge now is “the negative press toward the police and selling ourselves to the public.”

Smith coordinates the field officer program, which involves training new officers. The department has hired nine officers in the past year, and 23 in the past 2 1/2 years.

“Scott’s role as the (field training officer) supervisor is extremely important and he does a great job,” Mayer said. “He is helping to shape the future of Troy P.D. with the training of new officers.”

Smith credits the field training officers for making him “look good.”

“I’m honored to get it,” he said of the award. “The credit goes to the people who work for me.”

Smith coordinated police response to a barricaded subject with a hostage in February, and police were able to peacefully resolve the situation, resulting in release of the hostage and apprehension of the suspect.

Paula Bratto was selected as the Non-Sworn Employee of the Year. She’s been with the department for six years. Before that, she worked for the city’s Planning Department since 1996. She handles the administrative duties for the training section and the community services section of the Police Department.

She was selected for the award because of her outstanding work ethic and attention to detail. 

“Paula is an extremely efficient and effective employee,” Mayer said. “We are able to turn projects over to her, and she will exceed our expectations.”

“It’s interesting and something different every minute of the day,” Bratto said of her job.
She handles registration of officers for training classes and the logistics of getting them there, as well as explaining alarm systems to residents.

“The people are incredible,” she said. “It’s quite an honor.”

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