Police honorees share their stories

Police Memorial Day Ceremony celebrates service

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 22, 2018

 Members of the Troy Police Department honor guard march in during the Police Memorial Day Ceremony at the Troy Police Department May 17.

Members of the Troy Police Department honor guard march in during the Police Memorial Day Ceremony at the Troy Police Department May 17.

Photo by Sean Work

 Troy Mayor Dane Slater, right, and police officer Brenna Yunkari place a wreath in memory of Troy police officer Martin Chivas, who died in the line of duty in 1974, during a ceremony May 17.

Troy Mayor Dane Slater, right, and police officer Brenna Yunkari place a wreath in memory of Troy police officer Martin Chivas, who died in the line of duty in 1974, during a ceremony May 17.

Photo by Sean Work

 Joe Haddad

Joe Haddad

 Jason Clark

Jason Clark

TROY — The Troy Police Department honored the men and women who protect and serve, and those who lost their lives on the job, during Police Week last week. 

During the Police Memorial Day Ceremony at the Troy Police Department May 17, Police Chief Gary Mayer paid tribute to fallen officers, and he recognized outstanding achievements by Troy police personnel later that morning at a luncheon. 

Officer Jason Clark was named the 2017 Police Officer of the Year in recognition of his strong commitment to providing excellent police service and his personal dedication to others. 

He currently serves in the department’s training section and has overseen an upgrade of the department’s firing range, and he manages critical emergency equipment. 

He first served as a police service aide in 1999 and was promoted to officer in 2004. He has also served as an evidence technician, a field training officer and a member of the honor guard.

Clark is a Troy native, a graduate of Troy High School and the son of retired Troy Police Sgt. James Clark.

Clark said his father, a policeman for 40 years, inspired him to be a police officer. His favorite part of the job is his responsibilities in the training section. 

“I worked the street for over 10 years,” he said. “I’m the first face in the department the new hires see.”

“Today (Police Memorial Day) is special to me,” he said. “I get to play taps. … I cherish it.”

Troy Police Sgt. Joseph Haddad was chosen as the 2017 Command Officer of the Year for his outstanding leadership and management of the department’s communications and lockup sections.

 He oversaw a complete renovation of the department’s communications section, including a new 911 system and the installation of an uninterruptible power source and backup generator.

Haddad has been with the Troy Police Department since 1997 and, according to a prepared statement, “distinguished himself as someone that can be relied upon to complete difficult tasks.”  

His supervisors report that he can competently and effectively manage extremely complex projects.

Haddad is a Troy native, a graduate of Athens High School and a volunteer with the Troy Athens football program. He was promoted to command sergeant major in the U.S. Army in 2004 and is currently in the U.S. Army Retired Reserves.

He also served in the military police. 

“I started (police work) in Hamtramck, and as a Troy native, working in Troy was a dream come true. I love being out there and able to help any given situation,” he said. “I love the ability to help people.” 

He said he decided to be a policeman when he was 8 or 9. 

“My father, Tony, had a store in Detroit, in a rough area. The Detroit police always came to the rescue. They took care of my father and restored order and did what it takes to keep us safe.” 

Police Service Aide Donald Buckbee was selected as the 2017 Troy Police Department Non-Sworn Employee of the Year for his professionalism and commitment. 

He’s been with the Troy Police Department since 2008. According to a prepared statement, “Buckbee has established a reputation as a positive and dependable employee, willing to assist residents and other department members with any task,” including being called to crossing guard duty at local schools, establishing a positive reputation with parents and students.

Buckbee’s supervisors report that he has an “outstanding work ethic and incredible initiative. His commitment to the Police Department and its objectives never falters, and his discretion and integrity are unquestionable.”

Buckbee works in a city vehicle assisting motorists at accidents and moving radar controls, and he also issues parking tickets and other citations when warranted. 

“When the position became available, I jumped at it,” he said. “It’s a more hands-on role.” He said he enjoys “helping people in a positive way.” 

At the Police Memorial Day Ceremony, Mayer paid tribute to the department’s fallen officers:

• Officer Charles Smetana, 33, died Dec. 11, 1969, while he was responding to an injury accident and was involved in a crash himself.

• Officer Martin Chivas, 24, died April 22, 1974, when he was shot while investigating a burglary involving prison escapees in the midst of a multistate crime spree. 

• Officer Charles Mulvihill, 44, died Sept. 11, 2001, when he suffered heart failure while responding to a call for service. 

• Police Service Aide Stephanie Steele, 22, was killed by a drunken driver July 19, 1999. A weeping cherry tree is planted in her honor at the Police Department. 

“It’s always an honor and privilege for me to be here today,” said Mayor Dane Slater, who retired from the Troy Police Department as a captain.