Meet Saline's New Deputy Chief of Police, Andy Hartwig
By Carleen Nelson-Nesvig, STN Writer
What do we know about Saline’s new Deputy Chief of Police?
Andy Hartwig was twenty-one when he decided to be a police officer. It was in his DNA. He recalls, “My father was in law enforcement, and I had always admired his character and work ethic. He always acted as a caretaker in his job, community, and house of worship.”
Hartwig graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Criminal Justice and attended the Michigan Police Corps police academy in Big Rapids. Hartwig also completed the School of Staff and Command Executive Leadership Program at Eastern Michigan University before joining the force in Saline.
And why Saline? He explains, “There were many factors in the decision. Location, leadership, size, benefits, and community were some of the most important considerations.“
Deputy Chief Hartwig has spent his entire career working for the City of Saline. As thrilling and rewarding as that has been, he readily admits the job is not easy.
He shares, “As with any occupation, there are many difficult times. There are times when people in your profession do horrible things and cast a bad light on everyone else, times when your schedule prevents you from seeing your family, times when you see things most other people do not have to deal with. Like most officers, I've had to arrest someone dozens or hundreds of times. Sometimes, you feel sorry for someone who made a bad choice. Sometimes, you are glad because the arrest will help a victim sleep better that night. There is a wide spectrum of feelings, depending on the situation.”
Hartwig relies on his training and experience to make those split-second decisions characteristic of law enforcement. “There have been many incidents over the years where I knew my life, or the life of another person, was at risk, and I had to be ready to act,” he says. “I have been fortunate that all of these incidents have ended without serious harm to me or a suspect.”
Hartwig is also quick to report his most satisfying moments are when he hears from a family that he helped at one point. Sometimes, it’s a note or a card expressing gratitude for his service.
“Often, you don't even realize you had such an impact on someone's life,” he says. I know I was surprised one time when a family wrote a heart-wrenching thank you letter to us after we had to tell them about a tragic death in their family. They thanked us for the compassion we showed them. You don't expect for someone to be grateful under those circumstances.”
What has Hartwig learned in all his years in the force? “It is not enough to just enforce laws,” he says. “If you want to serve your community and improve lives, you must dig deeper. You must try to understand problems and address root causes. You must care about people, even if they are harming the community. A police officer should be a problem solver, not a tool of punishment.”
When asked what lies ahead for him, he jokes, “Whatever the chief tells me to work on,” adding recruitment, budget review, and updating policies and procedures.
“Andy is a fair officer, a leader,” says Saline Police Chief Radzik. “He is compassionate and does the right things at the right times and for the right reasons. Andy is steady.”