By Craig Hastings
There are very few things that change that will call attention to the police department here. I’ve been here for 37 years, and I can only think of a few. A change that most often will draw questions and comments will be when the department undergoes a change in the make and model of our police cars we use. In the 80’s we bought Dodge Diplomats for several model years so the local citizens were used to seeing these cars regardless of a few decal changes made to the cars over the years. After six years we moved on to rear wheel drive Chevrolet Impalas which caused a buzz for awhile as did the transition into the new front wheel drive Impalas with an all new body design.
I remember an early 2000’s first time ever, four wheel drive, Ford Explorer that really seemed to shock the public. Why four wheel drive? Why an SUV of any kind? Gas mileage? Will it hold up?
Moving on from the vehicles in the fleet are uniform changes. In 1986 when I became the Chief here I requested a budget allowance to change from the forever tan and brown uniforms to the more traditional blue uniforms. That change after 20-plus years turned out to be a positive one. There were a few naysayers complaints of a worthless expenditure, but new uniforms are a constant replacement issue with new hires and current officers alike. We could have phased the blue uniforms in and had a mix of blue and tan for two or three years or, go all in one time with one year. It was a morale booster for the department at the time so money well spent.
Twenty years later I caved in and allowed shorts and polo shirts to be worn by those officers who wanted to wear them. If not, the rest had the option of sticking with the traditional Class A uniforms we were wearing during the fall and winter months. The shorts and polos caused a stir and more comments and questions. Again, surprisingly to me the shorts didn’t cause any negative remarks from the public as I had expected. In the past two years the polo shirts in long and short sleeve are required wear with the pant option of shorts or the matching cargo tan long pant. So, it’s been cars and/or uniforms that trigger a call out from the community, right?
So I thought. Recently, as in the past three weeks, the Tuscola City Council, through the application process, hired a part time female police officer. Since her first appearance in uniform I have hosted as bevy of questions and comments from teens to seniors over the past weeks. And to my pleasure those comments and questions are of a positive nature. Where’s she from? Effingham, Illinois. What was/is she doing full time? Dispatch for Effingham County Sheriff’s Office. Is she full time or part time? Part time for now with ambition to become full time and move here. Officer Amy Fulk will be seen often riding with other Tuscola officers as she learns the ropes and geography of our community. She seems to be eager to become part of our community and is evolving very quickly from her move from police dispatch to police officer hands on. I wish her well.