Michael Frazier started his career with the South Amherst police 14 years ago as a reserve officer fresh out of the academy. Now he’ll lead the department.
With his son Aaron by his side, Frazier was sworn in Friday as police chief by mayor Dave Leshinski, taking the reins from Roger Kimble, who has retired after 13 years on the job.
“This is where I took root,” said Frazier. “I want to do the best I can for the community that gave me my first shot. I was a reserve officer, then moved to part-time, and then to lieutenant. When the former chief had some family ills to deal with, I was acting chief, and now that he’s gone I’m here to stay.”
As it becomes increasingly rare for part-time officers to move up the ranks and stay around for the long haul in smaller departments, Frazier said he’s happy to be the exception.
“It means so much to me,” he said. “I had a great instructor in chief Kimble. He taught me what it takes to be a leader. Now, being in that role, I want to lead the guys here to be the best we can be here in South Amherst.”
Frazier touched on how policing has changed due to the opioid epidemic and some of the challenges of a rural community.
“It’s all about training,” he said. “With everything going on in the world today, you train for things that just weren’t part of it 10 and 15 years ago. You didn’t even think about it. I’m all for more training. You’re kind of limited in a smaller department with the budget, but there’s still ways to get the training you need just like the big departments. That’s what we’re going to be doing here.”
Michael Harvan was promoted from sergeant into Frazier’s previous role as lieutenant and patrolman Jeff Saltis was promoted to sergeant.
“I graduated from the academy in 2004 and this was my first job,” said Harvan. “What I like about here is all the different personalities and the brotherhood that goes along with it. We don’t get to see each other every day but it doesn’t take away from the comradery or cohesiveness.”
“We all want to emphasize community policing,” Saltis said. “We all learn a lot from each other and our only focus is to make South Amherst better than it already is.”
Frazier said one of his first initiatives will be building a more personal relationship with residents.
“Get ready to start seeing us a lot more in a community policing fashion,” he said. “We’re not just traffic ticket writers. We’ll still be doing our job but we want to be out in the public’s eye. The mission now is to be community oriented, getting out and talking to people, asking them how their day is. We’re here for them. We’re here to serve them.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.