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MCPD leadership team now in place

Friday, November 01, 2019 16:37 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Restoring a human touch and healing were given high priority Friday by the new leadership at the Michigan City Police Department.

Dave Cooney and Jillian Ashley were named assistant chiefs by Dion Campbell, appointed police chief by the mayor on Tuesday.

Cooney, a 13-year member of the department, fought back tears for a moment while sharing the vision Campbell outlined after offering him the position.

''We really want to get our men and women in this police department back to feeling like a family,'' he said.

Former chief Mark Swistek and his assistant chiefs Royce Williams and Kevin Urbanczyk are now serving in other capacities with the department.

Their resignations last week stem from the October 10 drug related arrest of the mayor's stepson, Adam Bray.

Bray, 33, was allegedly found with a small amount of heroin and cocaine during an October 10 traffic stop.

Meer publicly alleged the task force and La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake targeted his stepson to try and defeat him in the November 5 election.

Swistek said he resigned after the mayor requested he withdraw the department from the La Porte County Drug Force.

Meer has since taken back the allegations that his stepson was set up and reaffirmed the city's involvement with the task force.

Cooney and Ashley, a 12-year member of the force, came over from the detective bureau.

"When you're humble, you say you're not qualified. But, I'm willing to learn what I need to do in order to be successful in the position I believe God has placed me in,'' Ashley said.

Ashley also revealed she and other detectives asked Campbell to become the police chief.

''We felt Dion would be best to bring about healing,'' she said.

Campbell, a leader in his church and the city's Humanitarian of the Year in 2015, has been with the department for about 20-years.

The last ten years were served working in the schools.

Campbell said Cooney and Ashley being well respected within the department and community and their ability to take over the reins should anything happen to him was a major factor in choosing them.

Campbell said the atmosphere here turned cold but it's happened elsewhere, too, from the growing animosity officers now face out in their communities.

He hopes getting back to a family like environment will have a warming up effect on the officers and the community as they interact with the public.

''It's not that we have problems in our department. It's just that police departments across the nation have taken a beating and it has caused us to be kind of defensive where we just kind of do our jobs and go home,'' he said.

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