December 12, 2012 - Lt. Dirk Feneley, new commander of Independence Township Substation, is back in his hometown.
Having grown up in Clarkston, new Independence Township substation commander Lt. Dirk Feneley is familiar with the area. Photo by Phil Custodio
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"This is always what I've wanted to do, my whole career," said Feneley, in his 33rd year with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.
He grew up in Clarkston, graduating from Clarkston High School in 1974 and joining Independence Township Police Services soon after as a patrolman.
"That was with Chief Jack McCall," Feneley said. "They sent me to the police academy and I joined the department in 1977."
In January 1980, he and the rest of the department were absorbed into Oakland County Sheriff's Department, where he's been ever since.
"I've worked in just about every township the county contracts with," he said.
He worked as a detective and detective sergeant in Independence Township from about 1989-2003, when he was assigned to a special investigations unit at headquarters in Pontiac.
"We worked on high-profile cases, officer shootings, homicides, internal affairs, jail deaths," he said. "It was very interesting, a lot of hours."
Then he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Independence.
"I've worked with the people here for years – they're all dedicated to the township," he said. "There's not one here who doesn't give their most to the township. All I have to do is mention a function or something that needs to be covered and someone steps up."
His father, Larry Feneley, is a retired police lieutenant in Pontiac. Dirk Feneley's been married for 35 years to Catherine, and they have a son, Matthew.
"I love living out here," the lieutenant said. "I've always lived here except for a couple years. The people are great. You have everything here that you need."
The township has changed considerably from when he was a patrolman in the 1970s.
"It's grown unbelievably, everything is different," he said. "It's a lot busier than when I started. As a patrolman, I might be the only one on duty in the whole township."
The Sashabaw Road corridor is looking good, he said.
"The businesses there – it's a long-term project that will draw more people here," he said. "We have to grow along with it."
Issues for the substation include public safety, traffic around school buses, and keeping things safe at DTE Music Theater, which he used to patrol when it was Pine Knob.
"I look forward to working with the township board and meeting village council to get to know their wants and needs," Feneley said.
Issues also include recent bomb threats at a Main Street restaurant and junior high, as well as a homemade incendiary device found in a downtown mailbox.
"This is a safe community, but that's not to say it can't happen – something can happen anywhere," he said. "You can research this so easily on the internet. It doesn't take a lot."
They will do what is needed to keep everybody safe, but parents can help by staying involved with their children, knowing here they are and what they're doing, he said.
"Parents, pay attention to what your kids are surfing for on the internet," he said.
Contact the lieutenant at the substation, 6560 Citation Drive, at 248-620-4968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Call or email anytime with questions," he said.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.