Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins is on the way out as the city launches an investigation into the department in the wake of a string of incidents involving officers that have given the department a black eye.
The news first emerged Monday at the City Council meeting and was echoed Tuesday as part of Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter’s state of the city address at the Rust Belt Market. Coulter told attendees that Collins announced his intention to retire effective Friday, April 13 after 40 years on the Ferndale police force.
Collins’ announcement also follows the recent firing of a 25-year veteran of the police force for a long list of violations of department policies. Police Capt. Vincent Palazzolo was named interim chief.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you this evening that after counseling with my wife and my staff that I’m announcing my retirement effective Friday of this week,” was all that Collins said at Monday’s Council meeting.
Coulter on Tuesday said City Manager April Lynch will lead a formal review of department policies and procedures and explore what measures and “cultural shifts” need to be instituted to prevent similar problems.
“Frankly there’s just been too many instance of officers who were not doing the right thing,” Coulter said after his speech. “So it’s time to do a review of the department.”
He added that Collins said he was retiring early “in part for the need for new leadership during this review.”
The incidents trace back to April of 2016, when a Ferndale officer was caught on dash cam video assaulting a teenager who was already in handcuffs during an arrest for suspected theft from cars. Then last November, a Ferndale police officer gave an allegedly drunk, off-duty Roseville police officer a ride home after he’d been pulled over for driving the wrong way on Woodward Avenue.
Then in February of this year, Local 4 published an embarrassing report and dash cam video that showed Collins neglecting to ticket a driver who blew twice the legal limit after she told him and another Ferndale patrol officer that her son was a Detroit police officer. “I hope you realize the break you are getting,” the officer is heard saying in the video. “This is a $10,000 break.”
Coulter said there was no timeline established for the city’s investigation. Collins is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Elsewhere, Coulter gave a largely positive view of the state of Ferndale.
“To put it simply, Ferndale is hot,” he said. “People want to live here, they want to visit here, and they want to develop here as well.”
Coulter cited the upcoming groundbreaking on the mixed-use parking structure known as the Dot — he said the project “has been a challenging development, but it will help Ferndale grow now and into the future” — and housing projects under construction at two former school sites. He also touted the city’s new affordable housing ordinance, which requires developers of 25 or more units to set aside 25 percent of the units as affordable, and its work to ensure the city is receptive to the needs of seniors.
Coulter also said Ferndale is thriving despite challenging political shifts in the state and federal governments.
“We’re now faced with a hostile political climate,” he said. “And in that climate, more is needed.”