Police Chief Radzik’s Inspiring Triumph from Tragedy

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Saline Police Chief Marlene Radzik. Photo by Carleen Nelson Nesvig

By Carleen Nelson-Nesvig, STN Writer

In a heartfelt journey that began with a childhood dream, Marlene Radzik has risen to become not only a dedicated police officer but also a compassionate community advocate.

Radzik shared her calling from an early age, saying, "When I was four and a half, we took a neighbor for ice cream. When we returned, there were several police cars and ambulances by our house. My brother, ten years older than me, had been killed in a motorcycle accident. It was pretty traumatic. My brother and I had always done everything together. The cops worked the scene and with our family. They were kind and helped us deal with what had happened."

This tragic incident, coupled with the support of caring officers, solidified her resolve to pursue a career in law enforcement. Her end goal to make a difference in people's lives.

Radzik completed law enforcement courses at both Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community Colleges Police Academy. Her path eventually led her to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, where she began her career in 1989 as a corrections officer. Radzik shared that her father could not have been prouder of her decision to become a cop. Through dedication and hard work, she climbed the ranks, becoming a commander in 2014. Her extensive experience spans a range of roles, including booking, supervising inmates, undercover narcotics detective, underwater search and recovery team, field training officer and the crisis negotiations team.

As a result of life's challenges and poignant experiences, Radzik developed a deep empathy for people. Radzik said, “ I really want to help people."

Radzik is amazed at the people that thank her for her good works. When asked if she had any regrets, Radzik was quick to say no but shared she wasn’t sure if she was ready to retire from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, but her father took ill and passed away. She realized she needed to spend more time with her family and grandkids. After being retired for a year COVID hit and for all the reasons Radzik retired she couldn’t enjoy time with her family, as being empty nesters, family couldn’t visit. Radzik noted while being isolated at home the George Floyd incident continued to play on the news and she felt a need to be in police services again, “doing outreach in the community to show we do not condone those kinds of actions," she says, referencing the George Floyd incident that highlighted the need for police accountability and reform.

Radzik's journey continued as she returned to law enforcement in Saline and most recently, promoted to Police Chief. Her appointment follows her successful tenure as a commander, where she oversaw police services and the operations of patrol units. "It feels wonderful. It’s an honor to serve the City of Saline and the community," Radzik expressed.

Chief Radzik is determined to exemplify the resilience, compassion, and dedication of a true community servant. As Saline's new Police Chief, she says she will strive to lead with a vision that emphasizes unity, transparency, and positive change.

What will the Chief focus on moving forward? “Mental Health is my top priority, quickly followed by substance use disorder and then domestic violence issues,” she says. “We also need to get to the root cause of these issues for these individuals, not just focus on the crime, but the real cause of the crime - to offer these individuals resources like counseling, in hopes to keep them out of the system, lower recidivism and help these individuals be successful in our community.”

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