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Award shines spotlight on Royal Oak police dispatcher

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 26, 2020

 Teri Murray, a Royal Oak police dispatcher, poses with three of her rescue animals — Eve the German shepherd, Wyx the cat and C.C. the snake.

Teri Murray, a Royal Oak police dispatcher, poses with three of her rescue animals — Eve the German shepherd, Wyx the cat and C.C. the snake.

Photo provided by Teri Murray


ROYAL OAK — Now in its second year, the Collin Rose Memorial K-9 Safety Award changed two key elements: It opened nominations to police dispatchers and allowed the public to vote on the three finalists.

While Detroit police officer Eric McCombs garnered the most votes, the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation also awarded prizes in honor of Royal Oak Police Department dispatcher Teri Murray and Detroit police officer Elizabeth Mellas due to the overwhelming response.

The first-place prize was a $2,500 grant from the foundation to support McCombs’ work with Detroit Pit Crew. The foundation also opted to give $1,000 to the Royal Oak Animal Shelter on behalf of Murray and split $1,000 between the Michigan Humane Society and the DPD’s K-9 Unit on behalf of Mellas.

Chris Powell, president of the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation, said the finalists received more than 11,000 votes, and all three had many passionate supporters.

The Collin Rose Memorial K-9 Safety Award salutes police officers and dispatchers in honor of the late Collin Rose, a K-9 officer with the Wayne State University Police Department who was fatally shot while on duty in November 2016.

“He was my best friend,” Powell said. “I worked with him at Wayne State, and our whole board is made up of people who worked with him. We get to do good in his name, and that keeps him alive.”

Rose advocated to improve canine safety and welfare by fostering and working with stray dogs in the city of Detroit, and the award celebrates those who share the same values.

Royal Oak Police Department Lt. Karly Renaud nominated Murray, who has worked as a police dispatcher for the Royal Oak Police Department since 1999. Renaud learned about the opportunity because her wife — a K-9 handler for the Federal Reserve — trained with Rose and sits on the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation board.

“With all the things that Teri does here for Royal Oak, I thought she was a perfect fit for it,” Renaud said. “She just embodies everything that award is supposed to mean. She goes above and beyond for the community.”

Growing up in Royal Oak, Murray said her dad fostered her love of rescuing animals at a young age. Their household always had pets, including dogs, cats, guinea pigs and birds.

After graduating from high school, Murray worked for a veterinarian in Southfield who specialized in exotic animals, so she got to personally work with zoo animals, local pets and animals from traveling circuses.

“I got a lot of exposure to wildlife, as well as elephants, bears, chimpanzees and parrots,” Murray said. “When I left that job, I worked in parking enforcement for three years before there was an opening for a dispatcher, and I applied and was hired.”

Murray’s duties include answering 911 calls and dispatching first responders, taking nonemergency calls, and helping residents at the front desk of the Police Department.

Because the Police Department is open 24/7, often residents will call police when animal issues arise. Given her experience as a veterinarian technician and her love for animals, Murray is the go-to person in such circumstances.

“Anytime we need anything, or anytime someone finds a stray (animal) and doesn’t know what to do, she always knows the answer,” Renaud said. “Either she’ll take it in herself or she’ll take it to the shelter.”

In September 2016, Murray helped rescue a snake discovered in a resident’s home. The small white-and-red-striped snake likely was an escaped pet, and after unsuccessfully attempting to locate its owner, Murray took the snake home. Her daughters named the pet snake C.C., because she resembles a candy cane.

Besides fostering for the Michigan Humane Society and the Royal Oak Animal Shelter, Murray also takes in animals that the Police Department needs help with, and she bottle feeds kittens that have lost their mothers.

She said she was proud to be nominated for the award.

“There are several officers here that knew (Rose) and/or worked with him. I’ve just heard the greatest things about him as a human being and an officer,” Murray said. “I’m very determined to keep his legacy alive with animals, but also his legacy just serving his community.”

The Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation is now accepting nominations for the third annual Collin Rose Memorial K-9 Safety Award.

For more information about the award, the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation or its other endeavors, visit