The City of Saline honored police officers from Saline and Pittsfield at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The officers were commended for their role in safely apprehending an agitated 15-year-old boy wielding a butcher knife in a threatening manner Sept. 13. Although the small ceremony was held to honor good police work, Saline Police officers made it plain that they believe they should be armed with tasers like the one used by Pittsfield Police to bring about an end to the incident.
Before the commendations were awarded, Saline Police Chief Larry Hrinik recounted the incident. On Sept. 13, police received a call from the boy’s mother, who said her son left the house upset and carrying a knife, Hrinik told council. Police tracked the boy down at Wilderness Park where the suspect, still carrying the knife, screamed at Sgt. James Basso to shoot him, Hrinik said. The boy ran into the woods and ffficers lost sight of him. Basso called Pittsfield Police and the Michigan State Police K-9 unit for support. A perimeter was established around the woods, with officers on foot and mobile patrol. About 45 minutes later, police were tipped that the boy was in a cornfield east of Woodhill Drive. Officer Dennis Gruschow found the subject in the area. Other officers arrived and ordered the teen to drop the knife. Instead, the teen turned and went toward Officer Gruschow.
“Offficer Gruschow ordered the subject to drop the knife several times and came very close to shooting the subject,” Hrinik said. “The subject kept taunting officers to shoot him.”
A request was made for anyone with a taser to respond (Saline Police are not equipped with tasers), Hrinik said. Pittsfield Police Officer Marc DeLaPina got close enough to the subject to deploy the taser. The teen fell to the ground, was restrained, arrested and taken to hospital for mental evaluation without incident.
“The use of the taser ended this incident without anyone being shot, stabbed, cut or injured,” Hrinik said.
Hrinik said the police work was a great example of teamwork.
“Dispatcher Wood and Seames did an outstanding job keeping officers informed and relaying information and coordinating from the department.(Officers) had every legal right to use deadly force to stop the suspect. However every one of these officers used great restraint, even though they were approached and taunted by an obviously agitated subject carrying a large butcher knife.”
Saline Police dispatcher Sandra Wood and officer Terry Seames received a letter of commendation. Pittsfield officers Tiffany Small and Marc DeLaPina received the Certificate of Merit.
Saline Police Sgt. James Basso and officers David Ringe and Dennis Gruschow received the Department Citation, which is the highest award the department can give. In addition, the officers will receive a blue and white ribbon to wear on their uniforms to commemorate their action.
Basso used the occasion to urge city council to make sure Saline’s law enforcement officials have the tools they need to do their job.
“We were fortunate. Like the chief said, any one of us could have shot and killed this 15-year-old kid. I hope the council considers how fortunate we are today that we weren’t faced with something more serious,” Basso said. “I hope the council takes that into consideration and steps forward and gives us the tools to continue what we do.”
Basso said the incident was an example of the way the two departments work together.
“This was a true picture of the collaboration between Pittsfield and Saline police department. People don’t see what happens behind the scenes between the two departments,” said Basso, who said the departments also train together.