Chief Kitchen Says Goodbye to the City after 35 Years of Service

(Crystal A. Proxmire)


Ferndale Police Chief Michael Kitchen has retired after 14 years as Chief and 35 years on the force.  Captain Timothy Collins was voted into the position of Provisional Police Chief by the Council at the June 28, 2010 City Council meeting.  Surrounded by family and friends, including wife Mary, two daughters and his mother Valerie, Chief Kitchen bid his farewell to the position of Chief, thanking many and indicating that he will still be keeping political watch.


His farewell Call to Council brought him to tears, as he said the following:


“The presence of my mother tonight is important because between her municipal career as City Clerk and my retirement as a police office on June 30, we will maker the culmination of 63 years of combined and continuous service to the City of Ferndale.  As you can see she’s doing just fine in her retirement and as a great grandmother.  Tonight I would first like to thank the people and colleagues and dignitaries who for the past month took the time to call, send cards, congratulate via e mail and invite me to special lunches and event to acknowledge my retirement.  I’m still trying to respond to every kindness personally, which I am still trying to do.  Thanks to you all and I will see some of you at sill more events in the future. 


At the very top of the list of people to thank are the Ferndale Police Officers who have always made Ferndale a safe and pleasant place to work and to raise a family since 1918.  These are the men and women who put it on the line 24/7, 365 days a year, and who have done so continuously since the beginning.  To the 38 active who still exist, to the many honorable retirees and to all of those who have served since the beginning I offer my humble yet full gratitude.  Ferndale does not exist without the Ferndale Police Department and exceptional men and women sworn, not sworn and staff who make it work.


Next I would like to thank the elected officials who have supported me and the Ferndale Police Department, not just for my 14 years as Chief but for my entire career as Ferndale Police Officer, especially among the group I would like to thank then councilperson and former Mayor Robert Paczkowski who had the courage and foresight to nominate me to the office of Chief of Police exactly 14 years ago on his call.


The past 14 years has been a magnificent period for the Ferndale Police Department who of which I am extremely proud.


Even more importantly however is my gratitude for the citizens of Ferndale, who – up until now – have had the wisdom to recognize the critical nature of our mission and who offer their unconditional support of the Police Department.  Their critical decision-making at the ballot box has the constant attention and involvement of those who understand what’s critical.  Not to mention the unending stream of thank you cards and letters and tons of goodwill during the holidays.  It made it a pleasure to have been of service to our citizens and visitors over the past 35 years.  And I say that on behalf of all the fine men and women who have served with this organization.  It has been a pleasure to serve.


Absolutely most importantly I will thank my wife and family, because for those of you who are unfamiliar with the life of a career police officer there many many more roles and horrors [?] that, in combination with long hours of shift work, holidays and missed family events, three in the morning phone calls and so on puts a tremendous stress on a family that supports their husband and dad.  No police officer can make it 34 years without the safety net of a family and I am proud to have them here tonight.


Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my predecessors, especially Chiefs Joe and Pat Sullivan, Red Geary [?], the Chief who hired me way back when.  They all paved the way for me to take the torch from Joe Sullivan – to carry out the mission of compassion, professionalism and strength which we have managed to accomplish with high distinction during the past 5 decades.  With that it gives me great pleasure to pass that torch along to my friend and Captain Tim Collins. 


As I have strived to maintain the high standards that have defined the Ferndale Police Department in my 14 years, your honorable body with the promotion made tonight, has given Ferndale its only chance to carry on this mission to survive.  The Ferndale Police Department could not have been successful without the steady hand of the best number two in the business, now Chief Timothy Collins.  Unlike 1996 when I became Chief, the challenges ahead for Chief Collins and the Ferndale P.D. are daunting, perhaps insurmountable.


There is, however, no better man for this job, this time.  He is a calm, pragmatic, intelligent and brave leader, something that Ferndale desperately needs right now.  I will be giving Captain Collins my unequivocal support in my civilian life and will be watching very carefully the extent to which he and the Ferndale Police Department are allowed to be successful in the future.


Thank you for this opportunity.”


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NOTE:  Parts that I was unable to distinguish from the online council meeting are in italic. If you know the correct information, especially person’s names, please e mail us at