Police chief announces leave, interim picked

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 10, 2017

 Sterling Heights Police Chief John Berg’s employment at the city will soon come to an end.

Sterling Heights Police Chief John Berg’s employment at the city will soon come to an end.

Photo by Deb Jacques


STERLING HEIGHTS — John Berg’s term as Sterling Heights’ police chief will be a short one after he announced during an April 25 City Council meeting that his contract will not be extended.

The announcement came as Berg discussed in a budget presentation how a series of police retirements are expected to wrap up during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

According to city officials, Berg had entered a Deferred Retirement Option Plan  that took effect in 2012 and lasted five years, making his final day June 17 of this year.

Berg became interim police chief following the retirement of former Chief Michael Reese at the end of 2015. The City Council confirmed Berg as the city’s official police chief in April 2016.

After the meeting, Berg told the Sentry that the DROP plan froze his pension in 2012 as a city cost-saving measure. The city had an option to extend his employment beyond 2017, but opted not to do so, he said.

Officials credited Berg with helping start the Community Outreach and Engagement, or CORE, program during his term, assigning six police officers to serve as liaisons to residents in six corresponding city districts. The city also credited him with efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic and illegal marijuana-producing establishments.

According to the city, Police Capt. Dale Dwojakowski, a 21-year veteran of the SHPD, will be promoted to interim police chief starting June 1.

According to city Community Relations Director Bridget Kozlowski, the City Council will ultimately need to vote to confirm the appointment of someone for the police chief position on a noninterim basis.

Berg’s upcoming retirement and Dwojakowski’s upcoming transition to interim chief come amid a multiyear police staffing succession plan that the department is expecting to come to an end.

According to Berg, the succession plan will affect more than one-third of the Police Department by the time it’s done. He said 54 retirements will have taken place by the end of 2017 — 30 in command, and 24 patrol officers. Forty-two new officers have been hired so far, and another 12 hires are yet to come under the restaffing campaign, he said.

Councilman Gary Lusk said he is concerned about the rate of retirements and hires in the department. Berg said police morale is phenomenal, adding that the new officers are adding a breath of life to the department’s culture.

“When we’re hiring, we’re hiring senior officers with a lot of experience,” Berg said. “Several of them have many, many years of experience in other jurisdictions. We just have to teach them the Sterling way of policing.”

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.