Saline Police Department Hires Veteran Ann Arbor Detective Bill Stanford
The Saline Police Department has a new detective. But his name won't sound new to anyone who has read crime stories in the Ann Arbor papers for the last 20 years.
Detective Bill Stanford has worked with the Saline department since December. In August, he retired from the Ann Arbor Police Department after 25 years. He spent 20 of those years in the AAPD's detective bureau, investigating everything from retail fraud, to sex crimes, to Ann Arbor's grisliest killings.
The Saline Police Department had been without anyone in the detective's role since the resignation of Mike King last spring. Chief Jerrod Hart said it was important to fill that position.
"I am not going to try to sugarcoat things. When we don't have a detective our ability to solve crime goes down significantly," Hart said.
Hart found room in the budget and started asking around. Deputy Chief Marlene Radzik had worked with Stanford in the past and spoke with Hart about him. Hart then asked around Washtenaw County law enforcement and criminal justice circles.
"I had prosecutors calling me saying I couldn't be looking at a better person to start up a detective bureau. So we interviewed Bill and he went through the background process just like anyone else and he has been a tremendous asset to the police department since coming aboard," Hart said.
Having someone familiar with the lay of the land in Washtenaw County, Hart said. In addition, Hart wanted someone who could help the SPD tighten its investigative processes, case management and evidence handling.
Hart said he anticipated a 3-5 year run for Stanford. After that, Hart said, one of Saline's younger officers should be ready to step into the role.
"It would be unfair to them to put them into this position right now. We would be setting them up for failure," Hart said. "Once they have that experience there the idea is for Bill to pass that baton into potentially a full-time detective."
Stanford said it's important to mentor young officers who wish to expand their horizons in law enforcement.
"There are good people here who want to want to learn and I'm more than happy to knowledge on to them," Stanford said. "It doesn't do anyone any good for me to hold what I know to myself. When I was starting in the detective bureau, the veterans passed on what they knew to me. And I as grew more experienced, I did the same for the younger detectives. It made us a better department."
Stanford grew up in South Lyon and joined the US Air Force, in which he served as a security police officer during the Gulf War. He liked the work so when he completed his service, he went to work for the Wayne County Sheriff's Department. From there, he went to St. Claire Shores and worked as a patrol officer before he was hired by the Ann Arbor Police Department. About five years into his service in Ann Arbor, he got an opportunity to work in the detective bureau.
He worked all sorts of cases in Ann Arbor. In August 0f 2002, Lee Ann Anderton was murdered during a robbery of the west-side Blockbuster store she managed. Stanford was tapped to interview a suspect named Eric Boldiszar, an assistant manager at the video store. During a lengthy interview, Boldiszar confessed to using Anderton's code to enter the store to steal petty cash. Then, when Anderton arrived to open the store before he was finished, Boldiszar hit Anderton in the head with a brick and sliced her throat with a box cutter.
The confession as critical to the conviction of Boldiszar, who is serving a life sentence.
"Through a process of about a six-hour interview I got him to confess to the crime and lead us to where property was and evidence was," Stanford said. "It was a long, drawn-out and complicated case that just lit my fire for investigative work. That's when I made up mind that I loved this type of work."
Stanford became known in the department for his interviews.
"My forte was interrogations and interviews. I never call them interrogations. I always call them interviews because you don't get confrontational," Stanford said. "Everyone carries guilt and the key is finding where that guilt is. You find someone's special theme or special meaning and build a rapport and make them comfortable so that you can get them to step up and admit it. Because they know what they did was wrong."
Those types of cases are thankfully rare in Washtenaw County and Saline.
In his first few months on the job, he's spent time helping the department develop the tools it needs for investigations. He solved a counterfeiting case. Last weekend, he was called in to help the FBI investigate a case with local ties that ultimately played out in a different jurisdiction.