Former Grosse Pointe Shores lieutenant named as new public safety director

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 26, 2021

 After a 28-year career with the Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Department, recently retired Lt. Ken Werenski — pictured in his office — has been named the department’s new director.

After a 28-year career with the Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Department, recently retired Lt. Ken Werenski — pictured in his office — has been named the department’s new director.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Grosse Pointe Shores has a new public safety director, but he’s no stranger to the community.

Following the Jan. 27 retirement of Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte, Shores Lt. Ken V. Werenski will be stepping into that role. Werenski retired from the Shores on Dec. 18 — the date that marked his 28th anniversary with the department — so he could apply for the directorship.

Werenski, who’ll turn 54 next month, has actually been working for the Shores since he was 19 and was hired as a summer laborer with the Department of Public Works.

“The more time I spent working for the city, (the more) I knew I wanted to stay,” Werenski said. “It’s great. This has been my life. This has been my home.”

Schulte recommended Werenski for the position.

“He has, in my estimation, always conducted himself in such total professionalism and (with) such a service posture,” Schulte said. “I’m really glad he applied. I’m glad the council made the decision to hire him. He’s extraordinary. … It’s very gratifying to feel like you’re leaving your department in such fine hands.”

Werenski, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Madonna University, was hired as a Shores public safety officer in December 1992. He was promoted to sergeant in June 1996 and promoted to lieutenant eight years ago. A Grosse Pointe Woods native, he still lives there, on the same street as the house where he grew up.

“We live in this community,” said Schulte, who also lives in Grosse Pointe Woods. “We work in this community. Like me, Kenny has made hundreds of friends (with Shores residents) who treat us well and appreciate the service we provide. … I’m not only a great friend of his, but I really respect the work he has done, and the officers respect him. It’s really a great transition.”

Werenski’s wife, Kristen, works for Vyletel Buick GMC. They’re the parents of two grown sons: Brad, 25, a buyer for Honda; and Zach, 23, a hockey player with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although no one in his family was in law enforcement, “I always knew what I wanted to do,” Werenski said.

Working for the Shores runs in the family. His father, Ken L. Werenski, of Grosse Pointe Woods, was honored in 2016 for his many years of service as a park ranger at Osius Park, and one of Ken V. Werenski’s sons was a seasonal worker for the city as a youth.

Werenski benefits from his knowledge of the Shores and the connection that the public safety officers have with the residents.

“You have to pride yourself on service,” Werenski said. “I’ve worked here for 34 years. I know the city. I know the men and women in the department. The key is relationships.”

Although he wasn’t part of the hiring process, incoming Shores City Manager Stephen Poloni knows Werenski well because Poloni was the Shores Public Safety director until his retirement in 2011. He said Werenski “will be a valued asset for the community” and called him “a good family man” who also cares about the city.

“Kenny has had a long history with Grosse Pointe Shores, a very good career,” Poloni said. “He is well liked by the community and members of the City Council.”

Werenski said having good officers, sergeants and lieutenants in the department will help as he moves into a new leadership role. He said Schulte has been a terrific mentor from whom he’s learned a great deal.

After the second of two closed sessions that followed the Jan. 19 meeting of the Grosse Pointe Shores City Council, the council voted unanimously in favor of making a conditional offer to Werenski to become the new public safety director.

At press time, Werenski was scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 27.

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