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A family affair

Husband, wife and brother among four promotions; one new hire in Police Department

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 11, 2015

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Within the Police Department that many members describe as a “family,” a literal family had much to celebrate when three of its members were promoted Feb. 23.

With two lieutenant retirements, Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said he had to fill the holes in command. Two sergeants rose to fill the lieutenant gaps; two officers, who happened to be married to each other, rose to fill the sergeant vacancies; and the first officer hired since January 2009 joined the ranks of the department.

“You cannot run a police department with gaping holes in our command staff,” Shelide said. “We have a paramilitary style of command structure. When I give an order or instruction, it has got to be carried out at different levels and needs somebody to carry out that thing.”

With a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University, Shelide said Lt. Robert Trupiano was the right fit to be a shift commander, as well as be in charge of training.

“It’s been told to me that he’s a quiet guy, a natural leader, and a very, very intelligent man who likes to analyze everything before he makes a decision,” Shelide said.

With six years of service in the military, Shelide said Lt. William Wiley was an ideal candidate for shift commander and trainer, as well as to be in charge of the armory — all of the department’s weapons and equipment.

Shelide said he believes lieutenants have the most difficult jobs in the Police Department — “thankless” jobs in which they are no longer “one of the boys.” As for the most important rank, Shelide felt it belonged to sergeants, as they are the frontline supervisors on the road who oversee the other officers every day.

Sgts. Jeff and Beth Walsh, who have been married for 20 years, joined the department in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Wiley, who is Beth’s brother, joined the department in 1996.

Wiley, Jeff and Beth Walsh and Shelide all worked together at the 7th Precinct of the Detroit Police Department in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The precinct closed in 2005 and was demolished in January.

“I’ve always had a great respect for Jeff. He’s a consummate professional and he’s the real police,” Shelide said. “Beth always kept her nose clean and was a hard worker, but more importantly, she has already stepped up into a huge leadership role.”

Beth Walsh said that when the eligibility lists came out for promotions, she began to get excited.

“We could not have planned it better. It is an absolute highlight,” she said. “It is just a great accomplishment for all of us, but it just means so much that I got to share it not only with my brother, but also with my husband.”

She said she and her husband both come from families with police and fire backgrounds, and growing up on Detroit’s east side, many families she knew were in public service and set an example for her.

“The transition (to sergeant) is great,” she said. “I’m very, very lucky to work with some really amazing cops. They are all fantastic and professional, and they’ve made the transition for me easy.”

Now is an exciting time for the Police Department, with a new chief, promotions and the possibility of new hires because of a better economy, she said.

“Coming out here (Shelby Township) is fantastic. The people are wonderful, and it’s a pleasure to serve this department,” Jeff Walsh said. “I loved working in Detroit, no doubt about it, but it was a very stressful job with very tense situations.”

As for the new hire, Shelide said that Kevin Bailey is an 11-year veteran of the Auburn Hills Police Department and has won a Mothers Against Drunk Driving award twice for making the most drunken-driving arrests.

“I interviewed him personally, and I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a superstar when he gets in the door, and he’s going to hit the ground running,” Shelide said.