Ferndale moves to hire interim police chief as new head of department

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 4, 2018

File photo

FERNDALE — The Ferndale Police Department has been without a permanent chief of police since April, but that will be changing soon, and the city didn’t go far to find a replacement.

City Manager April Lynch asked the City Council at its Aug. 27 meeting to bypass a 2014 resolution that requires an external recruitment for all department head positions — only in this instance — so the city could move forward with negotiations to hire interim Police Chief Vincent Palazzolo as the new leader.

Lynch said the external recruitment did not mean she had to pick that person, but it was to make sure the city knew what the recruitment pool held.

“Normally, I do that, but in the instance of a chief of police, it actually almost is … much like a city manager search, where it’s very public and very high profile, and what I didn’t want to do is, as we worked with Vinny and understood his role in our leadership team, what he’s been doing with the department, I didn’t want to do a disservice to everybody else if we already knew that Vinny would be a good candidate for us,” she said.

Palazzolo, who has been with the department for 23 years, has served as the interim chief since the April retirement of former Chief Timothy Collins, who left after several departmental incidents.

Palazzolo also led the department through a review of the department’s policies and procedures by KRW Associates, which has been concluded and delivered to the city. A story about the KRW report will be in next week’s Woodward Talk. 

The KRW report does state, as one of its 25 recommendations, that the city’s top priority is to hire a new chief. The report states that evaluators were impressed with the credibility and support that Palazzolo has within the Police Department and community, and he “has the skills to be a successful chief.”

Negotiations are ongoing with the city and Palazzolo, and he won’t be formally announced as the new chief until the Sept. 10 City Council meeting.

“I think that they felt that the momentum that we have kind of built up leading up to that report, and then the report coming, and the city wanted to continue with that,” Palazzolo said of why he thinks the city kept him as chief. “They’re happy with the direction that I’ve been leading the department at with my command team. So yeah, (I’m) pretty excited, ready to move past this and get some good work done.”

Lynch said that when the city promoted Palazzolo to captain a couple of years ago, the city had him be part of the leadership team so officials could get to know him and how he leads and develops the department.

“This last … five months he’s been interim chief, he’s just done an outstanding job, and I think that he is the right person for what we need for the department right now,” she said. “He knows and understands the community. He’s been with the department, I think, 23 years. I think that’s really important, is we need somebody in here who understands Ferndale, and I feel that Vinny really understands Ferndale and the uniqueness of our community, and I think that’s really, really critical.”

Palazzolo said that when starting off as a police officer, nobody starts thinking they want to be the chief of police; instead, they “just want to go out and be the best police officer you can and help people.” Along the line, as happened to him, they get promoted to sergeant, and then lieutenant, and then captain.

“Then here we are, sitting at the end of the hall (as chief),” he said.