By Angelo Parlove
Over the past three years, the Saline Police Department has seen a significant decrease in the major crime group each and every year.
The City of Saline has experienced a 36 percent drop in its major crimes, which includes assaults, burglaries and larcenies, retail fraud and criminal sexual conduct, in the three-year span. The number reflects a 11.5 percent decrease between 2015 and 2016, as the police department saw 268 major offenses in 2015, but only 237 in 2016.
Criminal activity in major crimes was down another 15 percent in the first quarter of 2017.
“We’re doing something right, and I appreciate the work the officers do,” Saline Police Chief Larry Hrinik said. “Our citizens are calling us when they see something suspicious, which certainly helps.”
Amid the drop in major crimes under his tenure as police chief, Hrinik announced his retirement from the position this month, after 43 years in law enforcement. Hrinik held the chief post in Saline since 2012, which followed his service as police chief in Davison Township from 1993 to 2012.
Hrinik began his law enforcement career in the Buena Vista Township Police Department back in March 1974. He will retire from the Saline Police Department on or before November 25, 2017.
“We congratulate you on that and applaud 43 years in law enforcement. That’s pretty extraordinary,” Mayor Brian Marl told Hrinik during the regular city council meeting July 17. “We look forward to celebrating that retirement in a few months.”
Hrinik’s leadership saw the Saline Police Department increase its foot patrols from the downtown area to include the shopping plazas two years ago. In 2016, Saline Schools were then added to the foot patrol program, with officers walking the halls at the elementary, middle and Liberty schools.
The department recorded 1368 total foot patrols last year.
Further, Hrinik implemented Lexipol’s policy management software to train personnel and update department policies as well as hold staff role calls three times a day to increase communication within the department.
Saline Police also began using Naloxone about a year and a half ago. On July 14, 2017, Saline Police received a call for an unresponsive male patient who was down, with his father providing the man CPR. An officer immediately responded to scene, assessed the situation, and gave the man two doses of Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids in overdose cases. In ten minutes, the man was up walking and talking.
“He would have died if the officer had not done that,” Hrinik said.
With Hrinik departing, the City of Saline will now begin the process to find his replacement. “I truly do believe hiring the right police chief is just as important as hiring the right city manager,” City Manager Todd Campbell said.
“When it comes to these positions and what can occur, you want to have a solid person in that position,” Campbell added. “I do believe it is critical we do our best with all that we have to recruit the top notch person, wherever they may be.”
Campbell and Marl will look to recommend a hiring process to city council that will mirror the process used to hire Hrinik back in 2012, which will include the use of a consulting firm. Under then Mayor Gretchen Driskell, the city hired a consulting firm to collect resumes, screen candidates and interview the top candidates.
The previous hiring process also included the formation of a search committee, which at the time included Driskell, Marl and Campbell as well as Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth and former Council Member David Rhoads. The consulting firm also organized of public forum.
“I thought that was a solid, a really good process,” Marl said. “It had a heavy focus on community engagement and soliciting advise and insights from the people we serve.”
The public forum allowed citizens and city employees a way to offer feedback on the qualities and skills they desired in the next police chief. This information was then used in the search process.
“I am very emphatic we do that again,” Marl said about using a public forum in the upcoming search.
For a consultant, the city will likely choose between the Michigan Municipal League and the out-of-state firms the Mercer Group and Strategic Government Resources.
“I have received three proposals with some firms that I have been familiar with over the years,” Campbell said. “It is critical to utilize a search firm that does this and does a good job of it.”
Costs for the consulting firm are expected as follows: Michigan Municipal League, up to $19,000; Mercer Group, $16,500 and up to $8000 for out-of-pocket expenses; and Strategic Government Resources, $18,500 and up to $8500 for out-of-pocket expenses.
“Mr. Campbell has actually been doing a lot of work subsequent to Chief Hrinik announcing his retirement, reaching out and reviewing consulting firms,” Marl said.
With Hrinik retiring on or before Nov. 25, city council will move expeditiously. At their next meeting on Aug. 7, council will likely decide three matters: which consulting firm to hire, approve the members for the search committee, and determine the hiring process.