Palace Chrysler-Jeep

End of an era

City turns out light on police

Chief Dale LaCroix locks up the Clarkston Police station for the last time. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010 - When the clock turned 11 p.m. on Friday, Clarkston Police Chief Dale LaCroix, Officer Jim Thompson, and a small crowd of well wishers raised their beers and toasted to a chapter closing in Clarkston.

"Yes, there is emotion and it's sad we're leaving we hate to see the department dissolve," LaCroix said. "All the guys like the people here and liked working here. It was a nice place to come."

Officer Jeff Farris, who's worked for the department the past four months, agreed.

"It's been one of my favorite jobs," he said. "Clarkston is a neat place to work."

LaCroix said they understood the "culprit" was taxes, but there were some guys who were upset the millage didn't pass.

"Despite us wanting to control our own destiny there are forces that prohibit it. I know the (millage) vote the way it turned out the request failed," said City Manager Dennis Ritter. "It didn't fail because these people didn't want their own police force, they didn't want to pay any more taxes."

According to LaCroix a lot of smaller departments will be closing over the next few years not just because of economics, but also because of Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) and "it's a trend that's not going to be stopped."

"They're (MCOLES) starting to call for minimum hours of work per year and that sort of thing," he said. "If that would have come to pass even for our department we'd been hard pressed to stay in business."

LaCroix, who was retired from Waterford Police Department prior to coming to Clarkston said he may join another department "if something pops up," or perhaps go back to construction, but he's in no hurry.

Chief Dale LaCroix, right, and Officer Jim Thompson toast the police department after the final shift. (click for larger version)
"I might take a couple weeks to goof off, working here I'm not complaining but I didn't get a lot of time off," he said. "Maybe I'll go to the Florida Keys with my wife."

However, he and Thompson will be around the next couple of weeks to "clean house," such as transferring warrants, filing paperwork, and getting ready to selling off equipment and cars.

"It's sad to see another chapter in Clarkston's history come to a close," said local business owner and resident Curt Cattallo. "It's going to be tough not seeing that Charger with Clarkston on the side of it parked out on Main Street anymore because it reminds us all of where we are."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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