New City public safety director ‘beyond grateful’ for help in reaching this point

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

 New Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Director John Alcorn thanks the many people who have helped him become a better officer and supervisor during a swearing in ceremony Jan. 25 in the apparatus bay of the City’s new public safety building.

New Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Director John Alcorn thanks the many people who have helped him become a better officer and supervisor during a swearing in ceremony Jan. 25 in the apparatus bay of the City’s new public safety building.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — The expression that “it takes a village” doesn’t just apply to raising children — it also applies to preparing community leaders.

New Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Director John Alcorn, who was sworn into office by Municipal Court Judge Russell Ethridge Jan. 25 inside the spacious apparatus bay of the City’s new public safety building, said he didn’t get there alone. As he looked around at masked, socially distanced family members, City officials, fellow officers, and current and former public safety directors in the Pointes, he credited them with helping him to become the person he is today.

“I’m grateful to so many of you for so many reasons. … I’m beyond grateful,” said Alcorn, removing his mask at the podium.

He said his parents — mom Alice, a Detroit Public Schools teacher, and dad Mark, a former sergeant who served with the Detroit Police Department for 36 years — hold a special place in his heart, as do his children — son Jackson, 14, and daughter Audrey, 16 — and his wife, Karin, who he called his “best friend,” choking up with emotion. Alcorn called his father “the finest police officer I have ever known,” saying that this was a particularly high compliment given the caliber of officers he’s known and worked with.

“I’m grateful to have had you as my training officer and my mentor,” Alcorn told his father.

Fittingly, it was Mark Alcorn who affixed the new badge to his son’s uniform after he was sworn in.

“My son, the new chief, wouldn’t be able to reach these new heights without the support of his fellow officers,” Mark Alcorn said. “He talks a lot about all of you.”

Alcorn succeeds outgoing Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni, who left Jan. 25 after 10 years to become the city manager of Grosse Pointe Shores. Poloni said the City will be in good hands with Alcorn.

“He was a great asset to me the entire time,” Poloni said. “He’s passionate about the officers he works with. He’s passionate about the community. But most of all, he’s passionate about the profession. … I couldn’t be prouder to be stepping aside and having someone like John Alcorn taking over as chief.”

Alcorn, 44, has been with the City Public Safety Department since 2001. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and later to lieutenant. He has received multiple awards, including Officer of the Year in 2005 and 2017. Alcorn has been a detective, fire marshal and field training officer, and since 2018, he has been the deputy director. He has initiated school outreach at Maire Elementary and a senior assistance program, and played a key role in planning the functional aspects of the City’s new public safety building.

“Throughout his career, he has demonstrated that, in addition to keeping our community safe, he is dedicated to building relationships,” Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak said.

Several City officials were on hand for the ceremony.

“I want to congratulate the staff and city manager for doing a very thorough search,” City Councilman Daniel Williams said. “I think we have the best possible candidate selected to be our chief. He knows the community, and I think he will foster a very good relationship with the community.”

“I want to thank him for his willingness to serve,” City Councilwoman Maureen Juip said.

City Manager Pete Dame named Alcorn to the directorship after what he said was a widely posted open search followed by extensive interviews and vetting.

“I am confident that John’s stellar record of service to the Grosse Pointe community will only shine brighter in his new role as Public Safety Director,” Dame said.

Alcorn’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in social and criminal justice from Central Michigan University, a graduate certificate in criminal justice leadership from Madonna University, and supervisory training from the Northwestern University Staff and Command School. Prior to the pandemic, Alcorn had been selected for the prestigious FBI National Academy in 2020.

Ten years ago, Alcorn said, he applied to be the City’s public safety director and laughingly said he didn’t even get an interview. City officials chose the more seasoned Poloni, a retired Grosse Pointe Shores public safety director. A decade later, with more experience and training under his belt, Alcorn is finally ready to take on this new responsibility.

“It’s a very happy occasion,” Alcorn said. “It’s something I’ve wanted a long time.”

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