Thursday, January 20, 2022

Councilwoman questions police department promotions

Recently named Deputy Police Chief Capt. Derran
 Shelby, left, receives congratulations from Romulus
 Police Chief Robert Pfannes and newly-promoted
Sgt. Jason Otter, at right.  Named as assistant
to the police chief was Monique Talley. 
Recent promotions in the Romulus Police Department prompted some criticism and questions from Councilwoman Virginia Williams during the regular meeting of the council Jan. 10.

Mayor Robert McCraight and Police Chief Robert Pfannes announced the promotion of Capt.  Derran Shelby to deputy chief last week.  Jason Otter was promoted from corporal to the rank of sergeant and Monique Talley was named as the new assistant to the chief. McCraight's Chief of Staff Julie Wojtylko mentioned the promotions during the Jan. 10 council meeting as the as the mayor was absent.

Council members had been notified of the promotions in a communication prior to the meeting, Williams acknowledged, but said she was “shocked” at the way the information came to her.

“In my opinion,” Williams said, “we have survived without a deputy chief for eight years. My concern is having more police officers on the road and my greatest concern with our police is that we spend any funds or any grants pertaining to the police department into that old court.” Williams said that she has been in the police department building several times and “it's not a good place.” She said there was a leaking roof and a concern about black mold at the current police headquarters.

“The mayor should be looking into that,” she said. She added that when the public safety millage in the city was approved it was an effort to better the police and fire departments and while the city has made improvements in the fire department, “we need to do some things pertaining to the police.”

“I just don't think it was the right time, especially with the situation going on with our residents and businesses. Our city is just not big enough for that. In the last eight years we made it without it. I just don't agree,” she said.

Williams then questioned the financial impact of Shelby's promotion. Wojtylko responded that the changes “will require a change in structure as far as his payroll,” but suggested that rather than discuss an individual at the meeting Williams speak directly to police chief or mayor.

“The mayor believed this was a warranted change and our goal is always to have more officers on the street,” she said. 

“The council has approved the hiring of four more officers, and we will be hiring more after that,” she reminded Williams.

Councilman William Wadsworth addressed the issue noting that he felt that Shelby was exceptionally qualified for the job. Shelby was promoted to the rank of captain in the department in 2011 and has 28 years of law enforcement experience, the last 23 at the City of Romulus.

“This does not take an officer off the street,” he said. Wojtylko assured the council that the change did not change the number of officers on patrol in the city.