February 05, 2014 - Thank you.
Posing with one of the Oxford Village Police Department's new in-car video systems are (from left) Viktor Paljusaj, owner of the 24th Street Sports Tavern; Bob Trottier, of Casemer Tool and Machine; Sgt. Mike Solwold; Police Chief Mike Neymanowski; Dave and Michelle Kunselman, of The Productivity Team (TPT) and Avonlea Spa and Salon; Todd Garris, of Walltek; Neal Searle, of Lotus Bank; and Denise Heidisch, of Complete Accounting and Tax Service. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Police officers don't often hear those two little words because nobody says them after receiving a traffic ticket or as they're being handcuffed and placed in a patrol car.
But a group of local businesspeople wanted the Oxford Village Police Department to know their efforts to protect and serve the community are very much appreciated.
Their 'thank you' came in the form of a $7,000 donation, which the police are using to purchase brand new video systems for three of their patrol cars.
Police Chief Mike Neymanowski said the generous donation means a lot to his agency.
"It's good for morale around here," he said. "(It lets) the guys know there's people out there that appreciate our department. It's refreshing because certainly, a lot of times with police work, we're beat up a lot."
Donors included Viktor Paljusaj, owner of the 24th Street Sports Tavern; Bob Trottier, owner of Casemer Tool and Machine; Todd Garris, of Walltek; Dave and Michelle Kunselman, of The Productivity Team (TPT) and Avonlea Spa and Salon; Neal and Cynthia Searle, of Lotus Bank; Denise Heidisch, of Complete Accounting and Tax Service; and Daniel Schreiber, of Lapeer Industries.
Each business contributed $1,000.
Paljusaj said "if somebody needs help in the community," he's eager to chip in whether it's a sports team or the police department.
"That's what life's all about," he said.
"Oxford's been good to me," Trottier said. "I wanted to be good to Oxford."
Trottier felt it was "necessary" for him to contribute as a local business owner because small communities like Oxford are basically on their own when it comes to funding and providing public services.
"We're not going to get any help from the federal government," he said. "We're not going to get any help from the state."
"It's just something for the community," Searle said. "It's important (to support) small-town America."
"Everybody wants Oxford to be great and self-sufficient," Heidisch said.
"I just think it's the right thing to do," Garris said. "The chief, I think, has done an unbelievable job here."
Giving local police the tools they need to keep Oxford secure is especially important to Dave and Michele Kunselman, who are raising teenage boys and want to protect them.
"Anything we can do to help keep the streets safer, we're all for it," Dave said.
"I think it's a really great idea for (police) to have the cameras because you just don't know what you're dealing with sometimes," Michele said. "We support everything in Oxford. We're from Oxford and we love the community."
The in-car video systems cost approximately $3,000 each, so this donation covered nearly 80 percent of the total price.
Each system consists of two cameras to cover the front and rear of the vehicle; a rearview mirror with built-in viewing monitor; a wireless microphone; and a solid-state recording system that places video files on a removable digital memory card that can be inserted into almost any computer.
Without the donation, Neymanowski said his agency wouldn't have been able to afford these systems until the village's new fiscal year begins July 1. The chief didn't purchase them as part of the current budget because he didn't want to run the risk of going in the red.
"In 14 years, I've never been in the red as police chief and I didn't want it to happen this year," Neymanowski said.
It's no secret that municipal budgets, particularly in small communities like the village, have been extremely tight over the last few years due to declines in tax revenue.
Neymanowski said this donation will allow him to use the $7,000 the department would have spent on video systems to purchase other needed items.
New video systems were necessary because the current ones have experienced many maintenance issues, so they've not been reliable. The chief noted the new systems come with a five-year warranty.
Neymanowski explained that in-car cameras are pretty much standard issue these days for most police departments.
They allow officers to document traffic stops and other incidents, which serves the dual purpose of providing video and audio evidence for court cases and protecting officers if a complaint is lodged against them.
Whenever accusations are made, the chief said "99 percent of the time, the officer's right" and it's nice to have the proof on video for all to see and hear.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.