The winds of change are blowing this year and in that spirit, I think it’s time for the Oxford Village Police Department to have a new chief.
That chief should be Sgt. Mike Solwold.
I’ve said it for years, privately, and now, I’m saying it publicly.
Solwold has faithfully served this town as a police officer since the 1990s.
In all the time I’ve known him, which is coming up on 18 years now, he’s never been anything but completely honest and totally devoted to the community he calls home.
His passion for Oxford is quite obvious. His caring for others is quite genuine. His loyalty and character are beyond question. He’s not here for his own benefit, he’s here for ours.
I’ve had lots of opportunities to see Solwold in action and I’ve never once been disappointed in him or ashamed of his conduct. He’s never made me feel anything other than pride. I’ve never known him to do anything other than what’s right.
Every year, during the Shop with a Hero event at Meijer, Solwold’s right there helping to make Christmas a bit merrier for local kids and families in need of a helping hand.
Watching him interact with those kids is a pleasure because there’s nothing forced or fake about it. He’s just as happy to be there as they are, if not more so.
Growing up, I remember adults always telling me, “The police officer is your friend.” That message was usually accompanied by an illustration or a photo of a smiling cop bending down to talk to a small child.
Solwold reminds me of that image. He’s helpful. He’s friendly. He doesn’t talk down to you. He doesn’t try to bully or intimidate you. He treats everyone the same. He believes the badge on his chest makes him the public’s servant, not its superior.
That’s the type of person who should be sitting in the chief’s office. That’s the type of person who should be setting an example for the men and women under him.
Solwold is a good man, plain and simple.
That much was evident when he spearheaded the effort to ensure the memory of village night watchman John “Jay” Gould is never forgotten.
Gould was the only Oxford officer to ever be killed in the line of duty. He was shot down in cold blood on Feb. 13, 1925 near the Oxford Savings Bank (now the Northeast Oakland Historical Museum) at the corner of Washington and Burdick streets.
For 90 years, Gould laid in an unmarked grave in the Oxford Township cemetery on W. Burdick St.
But thanks to Solwold’s efforts, Gould’s grave now has a beautiful headstone and there’s a plaque commemorating his sacrifice mounted outside the museum.
Solwold didn’t do this for publicity. He didn’t do it so folks would pat him on the back.
He did it because he felt it was something that was long overdue and needed to be done. He did it because he felt a kinship with this brother in blue whose watch ended long before he was born.
That’s the kind of guy Solwold is.
Now, anyone who knows me or reads my column knows I don’t believe the village needs its own police department – or a separate government, for that matter.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that I would much rather contract with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, which can deliver quality service for a much lower price.
If the village council finally decides to go that route, I will certainly cheer louder than anyone else.
But if I must continue having a village police force, I want it to be led by Solwold because at least there would be someone in charge who is trustworthy, who is truthful, who is selfless, who is a credit to the badge he wears.
Solwold deserves to be chief because he’s spent his entire career here and paid his dues.
Solwold deserves to be chief because he’s been the agency’s second-in-command for many years.
Solwold deserves to be chief because he’s not interested in playing politics. He just wants to do the job he loves in the town he lives in and loves.
But most of all, Solwold deserves to be chief because he’s a good man – a man who has remained honorable even when many of the people around him over the years have most certainly not been.
Every town deserves a Mike Solwold.
We’re damn lucky to have him here.