Public safety hires discussed in Fraser

Fraser finds new interim city manager

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 4, 2020

File photo


FRASER — The retirement and hiring of public safety officers — as well as the hiring of an interim city manager — has highlighted recent city business in Fraser.

During the city’s Aug. 13 meeting, interim Public Safety Director Mike Pettyes said “we’ve always been at 29” officers. He discussed the anticipation of two impending retirements, bringing the number down to 27.

He said the department has worked through a process of hiring in advance in recent years to prepare for people leaving.

“Especially being public safety, there’s a lot more training involved,” he said. “We are at such low manning, so when one person leaves it just creates scheduling nightmares.”

On Aug. 28, Pettyes said that he, a lieutenant and a sergeant had conducted about 10 interviews to fill the two vacancies.

A couple council members expressed concern for the communication, or lack thereof, between Pettyes and the City Council.

“We don’t know the status of what’s going on,” Councilwoman Suzanne Kalka said during that meeting. “That’s the problem we have.”

Pettyes said he does not normally communicate directly with City Council.

“I was kind of thrown for a loop because the communication, it’s like a chain in command,” he said. “My communication goes to the city manager, and then he communicates with them.”

Fraser Mayor Mike Carnagie feels communication between City Council and DPS is satisfactory, saying some communications may be lost in the shuffle based on what to make public.

“I felt I’ve been getting pretty good updates,” Carnagie said. “I think communication has been pretty good.”

As for the state of the department overall, Carnagie said “it’s set up pretty good now.”

“The plan the interim director has brought forward is that he can hire people before they retire, so when that retirement does happen, we basically have someone to go in that place,” he said.

Pettyes said his department’s EMS calls have remained about average compared to pre-pandemic times, while domestic calls have “definitely” increased.

“The overall calls per service are down,” he said. “And the proactive policing of, people are not working as much — those numbers are down, but are on their way back up.”

It’s been a difficult time for all public safety members, he added, in reference to escalating situations nationwide between citizens, law enforcement and politicians. He said his department still gets plenty of positive local support.

“I don’t know where this came from, with law enforcement,” he said. “You can’t do anything in this day and age without being completely scrutinized. … It’s a difficult job and these decisions these cops are making are split-second.

“We are humans and try to make the best decisions we can. Most of the time it works out; unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t. Nobody gets into this job for improper, immoral reasons. We make mistakes. We’re humans, you try to do the best you can.”


Fraser hires interim city manager
As of Aug. 11, Wayne O’Neal was no longer the city manager of Fraser.

After over three years of serving the city, Carnagie said he sat down with O’Neal and told him his contract would not be renewed, with Carnagie expressing the city wanting to go in a new direction.

“(O’Neal) was very honorable and professional in his departure, and he offered to help the city any way he could,” he said. “It was amicable on both sides.”

Marc Thompson is now the interim city manager. Carnagie said he is “very impressed” with Thompson, who has about four decades worth of experience in four cities in the same role.

He will stay for about six months, until a long-term option comes into the fold.

“He interviewed very well,” Carnagie said. “To me, he was a perfect fit because he does not want a full-time position. … It does take a while. If you do it, you do it right. You can’t do something like (find a long-term option) in 30 days. You need to understand the city and where the city needs to go, have new and fresh ideas.”

As for current city projects, Carnagie said Aug. 28 that everything is still on target for completion and there have been “no surprises at this point.”

Construction is 100% completed on Masonic, and about 60% completed on Fruehauf Road. The Utica Road water line is about 60% complete, while the 14 Mile Road water line is about 75% complete.