BREAKING: Chief Hart Has Resigned from the Saline Police Department
Jerrod Hart has resigned as Chief of the Saline Police Department.
He submitted his resignation Monday, according to sources close to the department.
The Saline Post has reached to Hart and City Manager Colleen O'Toole for comment.
Update: The City of Saline released this statement from Hart on the city's Facebook Page.
“It has been an honor to serve as the Chief of Police for the City of Saline. The most enjoyable aspect of my tenure has been the relationship with the community, city staff, and the honorable women and men of the Saline Police Department. I am grateful for the work our Strategic Planning Committee has done to create goals and objectives for the Saline Police Department and especially their work to develop our mission statement “Building Partnerships With Our Community”. Thank you all for an incredible journey!”
City Manager Colleen O'Toole said Deputy Chief Marlene Radzik is likely to serve as interim chief.
"One of Chief Hart's many successes was putting together a thoughtful succession plan. Creating the deputy chief's role and hiring Marlene means that we will hopefully not skip a beat," O'Toole said.
O'Toole noted that council would need to approve Radzik as interim chief. It's also possible council could skip an elaborate search and choose Radzik as permanent chief.
"We have an absolutely exceptional candidate in-house who can continue the progress Chief Hart has made," O'Toole said.
Whatever council chooses, O'Toole anticipates the police department will continue to have a chief and deputy chief leading the department.
Hart joined the Saline Police Department, coming from the Novi Police Department, in November of 2017. Council voted unanimously to hire Hart, who was a finalist for the position along with Saline native Jeffrey Lewis. He replaced Larry Hrinik.
During his tenure in Saline, Hart led the department through many changes:
- The creation of a Deputy Police Chief position for the first time in 10 years. Marlene Radzik was hired as deputy chief.
- There was a major shift in the workforce - as veterans Don Lupi, Jay Basso and David Ringe left the department and were replaced with younger officers.
- A more diverse workforce, including the hiring of the department's first Black officer.
- Restored partnerships with the school district.
- Increased emphasis on training.
- Created the long-awaited 4-way stop at Henry and Ann Arbor Street.
- More "speed signs" which let motorists know if they're going too fast on city streets.
- Worked with residents on other pedestrian and street crossing issues, such as the upcoming crosswalk on Woodland Drive.
- He helped guide the city through its decision to allow recreational marijuana in the city.
In Hart's early years, officers privately credited Hart credited for changing the culture in a police department that had become fraught with backbiting.
Hart also drew support for the way he safely handled the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest that closed Michigan Avenue. Hart and the police department allowed the protesters to close the road. When most protesters left after the demonstration, several stayed in the street. Hart personally stayed in the road with them as police allowed some traffic to resume passage.
Hart's resignation was surprising. One of the reasons the council chose Hart for the position.
“I know he’s expressed interest in coming to Saline for the long term. I believe the city and the department would benefit from that long-term intention and loyalty,” said then Councillor Linda TerHaar. “I also believe he would come here with fresh eyes and great enthusiasm.”