Hail to the Chief!: Solwold sworn in as village’s top cop

Mike Solwold (center) was sworn in as Oxford Village’s new police chief last week. Doing the honors is Addison Township Clerk Pauline Bennett (right). With Solwold is his wife Shawna. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.

Say good-bye to Acting Oxford Village Police Chief Mike Solwold.

Say hello to Police Chief Mike Solwold.

Surrounded by a room full of family, friends, police officers and public officials, the 46-year-old was sworn in as the village’s top cop on Sept. 12 after more than two decades of continuous service to Oxford.

After taking the oath and having his wife, Shawna, pin the gold badge on his chest, a clearly-emotional Solwold expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the crowd.

He thanked the council “for this opportunity to serve as Oxford’s police chief.” He thanked his fellow officers “for their patience and their dedication.” He thanked the community “for embracing me.” He thanked his parents “for believing in me.”

Solwold thanked his wife “for her guidance and strength,” for keeping him “focused,” and for helping him to “understand both sides” of issues.

“I’ve always had a few mentors along the way that I’ve learned from and I’m grateful to each of them for helping me grow in this career,” he noted. “I have (been), and always will be, proud to serve Oxford.”

Solwold, a 1989 Waterford Mott High School graduate, had been serving as acting chief since Feb. 14 when he was immediately sworn-in following the departure of former Police Chief Mike Neymanowski, who had led the department since 2000.

“Council, I can honestly say you made a wise and good decision here,” said Neymanowski, who returned for the swearing-in ceremony.

“Mike and I (had) worked side-by-side for 17 years. He’s a close friend of mine, but I also know him as a hard-working, dedicated law enforcement officer for this community. I’ve seen him grow and learn to be a leader. I’m very proud of that. And hopefully, he picked up my good habits and not my bad.”

“You’re going to do fine, Mike,” Neymanowski added. “You’re an honorable man. You have integrity and you’re a hard worker.”

The swearing-in ceremony immediately followed the village council’s 4-0 vote to approve a four-page employment agreement.

Under the contract, Solwold is an at-will employee and will be paid an annual salary of $68,000, plus benefits. Any annual pay raises the chief is given, following a compensation review performed by the village manager – and “if determined appropriate,” the village council – shall not exceed 2.5 percent.

Solwold’s annual salary will be increased to $72,000 following his completion of “Staff and Command School,” which focuses on areas such as budgeting, problem-solving, leadership and management, and grant writing.

Various institutions offer this program. The most well-known is through Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety. It’s also offered by Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University.

According to the agreement, Solwold “shall make every possible effort to complete the Staff and Command School within two years of the date of this agreement.”

Solwold’s performance will be reviewed by the village manager every November and that review shall be presented to council.

The chief will be entitled to five weeks of paid vacation annually and a uniform allowance of $850 per year, paid in January.

If Solwold resigns or the village terminates him, he will be entitled to three months worth of severance pay, “base salary only.”

Solwold has served Oxford as a police officer since the 1990s. He started out as a reserve officer for the joint township-village police agency in 1993. He did this while working as a youth counselor at Crossroads for Youth (formerly Camp Oakland) in Oxford.

He graduated from the Macomb Police Academy in 1996 and became a full-time officer for Oxford that same year.

When the joint police department disbanded in 2000 and the village agency took its place, Solwold had the opportunity to join the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office as other Oxford officers did, but he decided to stay and help build something new.

He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2002 and served as the village department’s second-in-command until Neymanowski’s departure.


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