Vincent Palazzolo speaks about being named Ferndale police chief at his promotion ceremony in September 2018.

Vincent Palazzolo speaks about being named Ferndale police chief at his promotion ceremony in September 2018.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Ferndale police chief to retire at end of year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 9, 2020


FERNDALE — September of 2020 marked Ferndale Police Chief Vincent Palazzolo’s 25th year of service with the department. 2020 also will mark his last full year with the department.

Palazzolo, who began working for the Ferndale Police Department in 1995, was scheduled to officially announce his retirement from the department Oct. 12 at the Ferndale City Council meeting. He will serve his last day on Jan. 1, 2021.

“I started here as a patrolman and I worked my way all the way to the top,” he told C & G Newspapers. “My final thing that I wanted to accomplish here in the Police Department was to make it an accredited police agency. We achieved that in September, so I kind of hit all the goals that I wanted to do here. I feel like I’m leaving the department really in great shape and I’m kind of ready just to move on to a new adventure.”

For more than a year, the Ferndale Police Department has been working to become accredited through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, which defines the process as a method to help law enforcement agencies improve their overall performances through a voluntary adoption of standards containing clear statements of professional objectives. 

The department went before the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission Sept. 15 with its progress, and it was awarded accreditation at that time. It was to be presented with its official designation by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police at City Council’s Oct. 12 meeting. 

Outside of the accreditation process that he led the department through, Palazzolo said he’s proud of the officer wellness initiatives and the community-oriented culture the FPD is moving toward from his time as chief.

“I’m proud of the men and women who are coming into this profession when there’s 99.9% of the people in the United States that either can’t or won’t do this job,” he said. “These young folks that are coming in now and putting on a badge knowing that they’re going to be scrutinized for every single thing they do, I’m proud of them for coming into this profession, but I’m really proud of the whole staff, because they’re the ones that run this department. I sit behind a desk, but it’s the folks out there every day pushing a scout car around, they’re the true heroes and I’m … honored to be able to wear that hat and the same badge that they do.”

Taking over for Palazzolo will be Capt. Dennis Emmi, who’s been the chief’s second in command for the past two years. City Manager Joe Gacioch was to recommend Emmi’s promotion at the Oct. 12 meeting.

Palazzolo said his successor has been in Ferndale longer than he has and that he’s “lockstep and heel” with the department’s culture initiatives.

“He truly and deeply cares about this community, and I think it’ll be a great transition of power to Capt. Emmi,” he said. “He has the respect of the (department) and he’s got great community ties.”

Police departments all around the country have been under a microscope of scrutiny this year, with protests on racial violence and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. 

Palazzolo said the protests, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, had nothing to do with his decision to retire from Ferndale, as he made that choice at the beginning of the year.

“I’ve been here 25 years and I’m just ready to move on to something else, spend more time with my family and kind of enjoy myself a little bit,” he said. “This is a pretty stressful job outside of COVID and all the social movements and things like that, but I made the decision before any of that happened. I know a lot of people have changed their minds and retired because of this, but my mind and my family’s mind was made up before any of this happened.”

Mayor Melanie Piana credited Palazzolo with knowing the ins and outs of the department, and understanding what the residents ask of their police. She also commended him for being a community bridge builder between the City Council, city staff and the residents. 

Where she believes Palazzolo has been most impactful is his leadership in creating reforms in the Police Department, which led to its recent accreditation.

“He’s really been instrumental in bringing deep changes to the department and changing the culture in the department, and I’m completely grateful for his long-term public service to our community,” Piana said.

Though he will be retired from the Ferndale Police Department at the beginning of the new year, Palazzolo isn’t going to be finished with his profession overall. After his retirement, contrary to what he said most other chiefs do, he will look to continue as a sworn police officer in some capacity and get back on the road.

“I truly, truly enjoyed my time as a line officer, pushing a police car around day in and day out,” Palazzolo said. “I love the work, I love the day-to-day interactions, I love being able to help people one on one, and I would say that that was probably my most memorable time, is just when I was going out, doing that basic patrol work. I just loved it.”

“I don’t regret a single minute of working here for the city of Ferndale,” he continued. “It’s a great city. The community members are awesome, they’re very supportive, but they will call us out if we make a mistake, and that’s their right. We need that. I wouldn’t change anything.”