Public safety officials look ahead to 2016

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 6, 2016

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As Sterling Heights’ police and fire departments keep watch over the city’s safety, they are also preparing for future events on the horizon as 2016 begins.

Near the end of 2015, Interim Police Chief John Berg was promoted from captain to his current position after former police Chief Michael Reese announced his retirement. Due to remaining vacation time, Reese actually left earlier than his Dec. 11 retirement date, and he was poised to work at another job, as the chief of the Clinton-Huron Metroparks police.

“(The year) 2016 is going to be a challenging year for the Sterling Heights Police Department,” Berg said. “We look ahead forward to the process for a national search in finding a new police chief. In addition, we’re going to be experiencing many retirements and many new hires over the next couple of years.”

According to Berg, the city swore in 17 officers in 2015, and more hiring is expected in the future.

“In addition to the new hires, there is going to be a restructuring of the command positions,” Berg said, adding that some turnover will take place in 2016 and even more in 2017.

Berg said that since he has transitioned to take over for Reese, he has overseen the hiring process of new officers and has continued with the department’s succession plans and policies. He said the city plans to interview 80 people in 2016 for a number of available positions.

“In addition to that, we are preparing our budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year,” he said.

Looking back on 2015, Berg concluded that the city is doing a good job with its strategy for handling crime. He explained that Sterling Heights was labeled as one of the safest cities in America with a population of more than 100,000 people.

“I am looking forward to new challenges and new officers and a happy, healthy year,” he added.

Over at the Sterling Heights Fire Department, Fire Chief Chris Martin said in an email that 2015 was a year in which transitioning the dispatch center to the county level was “working well.” He said the Fire Department successfully handled the largest personnel turnover in its history.

“We have many new faces and many new officers in charge of the fire trucks on the road,” he said. “I look forward to further preparing all the new firefighters and officers to hone their operations in providing (the) top-notch service that we are known for.”

This year will feature a joint project among the Fire Department, the Department of Public Works and the dispatch center. The project aspires to acquire the GPS locations of Sterling Heights’ fire hydrants. The data will then be mapped out so that Fire Department vehicles can access it, Martin said.

Martin said 2016 will also be the year in which the city examines a consolidation feasibility study. A council majority voted to spend around $58,175 on that study in January 2014 in order to see what the consequences of consolidating fire services with neighboring Macomb County communities might be.

“We look forward to achieving any benefits in our service delivery that may come from the study,” Martin said.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net. Call the Sterling Heights Police Department at (586) 446-2800 or the Fire Department at (586) 446-2950.

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