There’s a new chief in town.
On Monday, a crowd gathered at Saline City Hall to greet Larry Hrinik, the new Chief of Police. Hrinik was sworn in Monday morning before he began his first day on the job. A ceremonial swearing-in with city clerk Dianne Hill was held follwoing a public meet-and-greet at 4:30 p.m.
Hrinik retired as Chief of Police in Davison Township earlier this year because the new state retirement formula made staying on financially disadvantageous. But, Hrinik said, he was not ready to retire.
“I wasn’t ready to be finished with law enforcement. I enjoy the office of the police chief,” said Hrinik, who plans to move to the Saline area with his wife, Barbara. “If it wasn’t for the retirement cap, I never would have left the position in Davison Township. I loved my department. I enjoyed working with the township board. And in looking at that, I think Saline will be similar. “
Hrinik said when he discovered , he decided to apply for the Saline job. He said he didn’t know much about the community from his drives through town, other than it was a small community, like a Grand Blanc or Davison Township. The idea of working in a small department appealed to Hrinik.
“I’ve never been one to be interested in the large department. The idea of working for a Flint or an Ann Arbor never interested me,” Hrinik said. “I think the thing I like most about a small department is that you know everybody. I know all my officers by their first name. I know who their wives are. I know about their kids. And I want to build relationships with city hall, as well. And I don’t think you can do that in a big department.”
Hrinik said he understands his role is more than managing police department.
“I want to get to know the business community and I want people to know my face so that when they have a problem, they can come in here and feel comfortable sitting down to talk to me,” he said.
Hrinik began his law enforcement career in Buena Vista Township in 1974. He became a sergeant in 1985. In 1993, he left to become Chief of Police in Davison Township.
Monday’s meet-and-greet was attended by city officials, State Rep. Mark Ouimet, Saline police officers, law enforcement from around the county, four officers from the Davison Township Police Department and members of Hrinik's family.
Mayor Pro Tem Dean Girbach said it was an important day for the City of Saline.
“It’s going to be great to have someone come in and provide new direction and new ideas to keep us continuing as a great police department,” Girbach said. “This is an important time in our department, with the budget problems and other issues coming towards us.”
Girbach said he liked Hrinik more than other candidates for the job because of Hrinik’s experience in a small town department where he had to periodically deal with issues coming out of bigger nearby cities.
City Council member David Rhoads was on the hiring committee that screened applicants before presenting two final candidates to the full council.
“A lot of the candidates were very good or equal in terms of their experience and qualifications. What I like most about Larry is his personality. I believe he’ll be someone people in the city can relate to,” Rhoads said.
Saline Police officer Chris Boulter said officers in the department are looking forward to working with the new chief.
“We’re looking forward to the experience he brings and moving forward as a professional department,” Boulter said, adding that seeing officers from Davison Township at the ceremony was a sign that Hrinik was respected by the people who worked under him in his previous job.
Pittsfield Township Public Safety Director Matthew Harshberger said he’s had interactions with Hrinik through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.
“He has a reputation as being a good man, honest and a hard worker. I look forward to working with him,” Harshberger said, adding that he planned to work with Hrinik to help him get up to speed on county law enforcement issues. “We want him to feel like he’s part of the Washtenaw County team.”
Four members of Hrinik’s old team made the trip down to Saline for the meet-and-greet and swearing-in.
“We wanted to be here to see him get sworn in,” said Lt. Jimmie Baber, of Davison Township Police. “He is a very progressive chief. He’s very interested in technology and keeping the department trained in the latest techniques. He helps officers develop to their full potential.”
Hrinik said he was most proud that he was able to mentor his successor in Davison Township.
“I’m most proud that I was able to mentor my successor, who began on the department 15 years ago, and worked his way up through promotions and command school and the FBI academy. I recommended him to the township board and he was unanimously approved,” Hrinik said. “He’s doing a great job and I know the township supervisor and board are very happy with him, and I’m happy about that.”
When not at work in the police department, Hrinik can often be found in the classroom.
“Education is important to me. I place a lot of emphasis on training and education,” said Hrinik, who has been a teaching for 25 years at University of Michigan-Flint, Saginaw Valley State University and several police academies.
Hrinik and his wife, Barbara, have three grown children and six grandchildren.
Hrinik received his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and sociology and his Master of Arts degree in organizational leadership and administration from Saginaw Valley State University.