Recently retired Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety director reflects on more than 40-year career

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 11, 2022

 Residents and city officials —including, left, Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Deputy Director John Hutchins — give a standing ovation Dec. 13 to Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen, right. Jensen retired Dec. 31.

Residents and city officials —including, left, Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Deputy Director John Hutchins — give a standing ovation Dec. 13 to Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen, right. Jensen retired Dec. 31.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Advertisement

Editor’s note: The year 2021 was marked by the departure of a number of longtime, significant officials in the Grosse Pointes. This story is about one of those individuals.

 

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — He may not be the longest-serving Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department member — a distinction earned by former officer and dispatcher Don Dewey, who retired in 2015 after 47 1/2 years — but Public Safety Director Daniel “Dan” Jensen might be the only member of the 40-plus-years club who can say he started working for the city as a teen.

Jensen, 66, retired Dec. 31 after almost 44 years in the Public Safety Department, which he ran since June 1, 2006. But the lifelong Farms resident started working for the city at age 16, when he was a lifeguard at Pier Park. He briefly served as the city’s assistant park director, from 1976 to 1977, under Ed Lauer and as a paper salesman from August 1977 to February 1978, but Jensen said he “couldn’t shake” his desire to work in law enforcement.

“I always wanted to be a cop,” Jensen said. “Always. It’s all I wanted to do.”

The Farms City Council honored Jensen with a proclamation in his honor during a meeting Dec. 13.

“It’s a big change,” City Manager Shane Reeside said after the meeting. “It’s the end of an era.”

Mayor Pro Tem John Gillooly said Jensen provided the city with “unquestioned leadership” and 50 years of dedicated service.

“We’ve never (heard anything) bad about this distinguished gentleman,” Gillooly said.

Jensen said it was his “honor and privilege to serve the city” and thanked the council, residents and administration for their support over the years. He also thanked his family, who had to deal with long hours, weekends, late nights and sometimes holidays.

“I will miss the job,” Jensen told the council. “I will really miss the personnel. … They are the best.”

Jensen was with the department through a sea of changes, including the switch from separate police and fire departments to a single Public Safety Department in 1988. Jensen, who by then was a detective, attended the fire academy so he could become a public safety officer. All the police officers cross-trained, but Jensen said the firefighters didn’t, so the latter were replaced gradually, by attrition.

“It takes a special person to be in public safety,” Jensen acknowledged. “You have to have the combined qualities of wanting to fight fires but also enforce laws.”

Jensen also saw advancements in technology such as in-car and body cameras and improved firefighting technology such as foam, as well as implementation of the Farms’ K-9 program and enhancements to the city’s dive team and bike officer team. 

Detective Lt. Antonino Trupiano, who has been with the department since 2002, said Jensen made sure the department kept up with the latest training and technology, including getting body cameras “before anybody else” in the area.

“We’re well run,” Trupiano said of the department. “Everybody gets along. And that comes from the top down.”

He said Jensen passed down plenty of knowledge that he learned from years in public safety. He also brought a genuine love for the city that came from growing up there.

“He’s been so well respected and well liked by everyone in the community,” Trupiano said of Jensen. “You can’t live here and work here that long and not have that relationship with the community.”

Former Deputy Director John Hutchins — who was named Jensen’s successor by the Farms City Council in December — said perhaps the most valuable lesson he learned from Jensen was the importance of interpersonal communication in dealing with the public.

“This job involves communication at every level — exchanging information, influencing attitudes and behaviors, and building relationships,” Hutchins said by email. “Dan has a wealth of experience in communicating with the public and utilizing his contacts as resources.”

Farms Mayor Louis Theros was unable to attend the Dec. 13 meeting but did weigh in on the public safety director’s long career.

“I was fortunate to work with Dan Jensen for the entirety of my time on council,” Theros said by email. “When he succeeded Bob Ferber as the Director of Public Safety, Dan could have quietly let things continue as is, but he did not. He brought many new ideas to the operations of the department and made it the model for other communities that it is today. Dan was literally everywhere in our City and always just a phone call away. Dan embodied community policing. There are many times when a deft touch is needed, and Dan always did what was right. His leadership, style and conviction will be missed, but the advancements he brought to the department will live on. It was truly a privilege to serve with him.”

Other Farms officials also praised Jensen.

“Beyond being a highly competent law enforcement professional and director, Dan is great person,” Reeside said. “With his infectious humor, easy smile and storytelling, people are drawn to Dan. Though uncompromising against crime, Dan also believes in redemption. He has counseled a countless number of individuals, particularly youth who have made mistakes, offering a second chance and hope. The city will be forever grateful for Dan’s 50 years of dedicated service to the community and leadership of the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department. I will also be forever grateful for his friendship.”

Having just been named to his new position at the end of 2020, Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Director Ken Werenski said Jensen was a great source of advice.

“As a newbie … you pick up the phone and call Dan, and he’s already been there, done that,” Werenski said. “He’s been such a resource for a young guy like me. It really is hard to see him go.”

Hutchins learned about leadership while working with Jensen for years.

“Dan’s leadership style has always been very relaxed,” Hutchins said via email. “He gave extra responsibilities to his command staff to help build depth and competency among the ranks. His style was greatly appreciated by the troops, in that it brought a lighthearted and enjoyable approach to what can be a very stressful and demanding job.”

Farms Lt. Andrew Rogers — a 22-year veteran of the department, who was formally named deputy director during a Jan. 10 City Council meeting — can say he’s known Jensen since Rogers was a youth growing up in the Farms. Rogers first met Jensen — then an officer — when Rogers was 12 and he and a buddy were setting off illegal fireworks in the yard.

“He came over and gave us a stern lecture about doing that,” Rogers recalled. 

Rogers also remembered Jensen pulling him over for speeding when he was 16, for which he was given a warning. 

“Between him and me, we could play Grosse Pointe Farms trivia and no one could beat us,” Rogers said of his fellow Farms native, who he said established “a good foundation” for the department.

Hutchins said Jensen “brought decades of unparalleled knowledge about the community” to his role in public safety.

“His familiarity with residents, the school system, businesses, churches, community organizations, surrounding agencies, professional contacts and knowledge of Grosse Pointe history has both enhanced our operations and added to the flavor and personality of the department,” Hutchins said by email.

Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Director John Kosanke said he’s known Jensen for more than 30 years.

“I’m happy for him that he finally has the opportunity to retire,” Kosanke said. “He’s put in a lot of dedicated service. We’re going to miss him. Dan’s always been great to work with and always available.”

Jensen was born at Bon Secours Hospital — now Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe — and moved to the Farms with his family when he was 7. Like Jensen, his two older brothers and one younger brother all worked for the city as teens.

“The city’s been very good to my family,” said Jensen, who, with wife Laurie, raised three children — Daniel Jr., Joseph and Elizabeth — in the Farms. He said his children, all of whom are now in their 30s, all work in marketing and sales. Laurie Jensen is a retired neonatal nurse and hospital administrator. The couple has five grandchildren.

“We’re looking forward to spending more time with them,” Jensen said.

He admitted he will miss the camaraderie and the laughs with his colleagues, who he said are “some of the best people in this profession.”

“We’re a family here,” Jensen said. “I will miss that.”

After 44 years, Jensen said he decided it was time to retire, and he also felt confident knowing the department would be in good hands with people like Hutchins and Rogers at the helm.

“It’s been a great ride,” said Jensen, who is believed to be the third longest-serving member of the Farms Public Safety Department.

Advertisement