Trio of POLC-represented officers honored for exemplary service
Posted by: jgomori Posted date: October 6, 2021
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor, with excerpts from news media
Two Bloomfield Township Police Officers and a Hart Police Officer were honored with 2021 Outstanding Service Awards (OSA) by the Police Officers Labor Council (POLC). The OSA recipients, who were nominated by fellow POLC Officers, were recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty during the POLC/GELC Annual Conference in Traverse City on Sept. 17.
“The POLC takes pride in representing these officers, who model perfectly the dual role of officers to protect and serve,” said POLC Director Rob Figurski. “With no time to spare, these Bloomfield Township Officers acted without hesitation, applying their critical response skills and training to save a man’s life. While many officers take on extra assignments, this City of Hart Police Officer is living a life of service that instills a trust in law enforcement, particularly in impressionable youths.”
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP POLICE OFFICERS MICHAEL BUCZEK AND DAVID COMERFORD
When Bloomfield Township Police Officer Michael Buczek arrived first on the scene of a serious accident along I-75 near the Square Lake Road exit around 12:22 p.m. Feb. 24, 2021, he encountered a very upset and confused elderly driver.
Officer Buczek, with the help of a witness, determined the 85-year-old woman had driven her 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan into a man standing by his 2008 Dodge Ram pickup truck on the shoulder of the freeway. The victim had pulled over to close the truck’s tailgate, which had fallen open, when he was struck.
“She didn’t even know she hit him. She shouldn’t have been driving,” Officer Buczek said. “When I pulled up, I thought she was the victim. I’m talking to her and she was literally hugging me. This guy came up and said, ‘Leave her and get to him.’”
The bystander was pointing to the front of the minivan. “I put her in my car … because we were on the side of the road and I didn’t want her to get hit,” Buczek said.
The Officer then ran to the 63-year-old man, who was lying in a significant amount of blood between the minivan and truck. The man suffered severe injuries to both of his legs, which were nearly severed by the impact, wrote Bloomfield Township Police Officer John Huizdos, in a letter of recommendation for the award.
“It looks like he got pinned and rolled up under her car,” Buczek said. “When I walked up to him, it was obvious there were visible compound fractures and he was bleeding pretty severely. I believe he was praying. He wasn’t hysterical – he was conscious but subdued.”
While assessing the injuries, which included a shattered pelvis, Officer David Comerford arrived and the two wasted no time. “I put a tourniquet on the one leg where it was obvious,” Buczek said. “When we put the first one on, you could see the injury (to the other leg). Dave had to go back (to his squad car) and get a tourniquet and put another one on.”
“It was kind of a chaotic scene,” Officer Comerford said. “I’ve been an officer for 18 years and our department does a really good job of being able to provide training in all aspects of what we do. Having something in our memory, we just knew what to do. I think it’s just a credit to the amount of training we’ve had.”
Firefighters from Bloomfield Township and Auburn Hills also responded to the scene. “Dave and I helped the firemen when they got there. We put a towel underneath him and got him onto the gurney,” Buczek said.
“As a result of their training, quick action and calm demeanor, Officers Buczek and Comerford saved the victim’s life,” wrote Huizdos, a member of the POLC/GELC Executive Committee.
The victim was transported to Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
The minivan driver was charged with a moving violation causing serious injury, a misdemeanor punishable up to 93 days in jail. “She was driving on the shoulder and she struck him,” said Bloomfield Township Officer Kelly Marthen, a member of Southeast Oakland County Crash Investigation Team (S.O.C.C.I.T.), which investigated the crash. “After multiple interviews, there were multiple reasons why she was at that location at that time. From ‘I missed my exit’ to ‘I was never driving there.’ She had no impairments, other than possibly age.”
Due to the extent of his injuries, the victim lost both of his legs. “The hospital staff had commented that if those two had not put on tourniquets, the victim would not have survived. Their actions did save the victim,” Officer Marthen said.
“We’re obviously very happy to hear he lived. We both took a lot of pride in that,” Comerford said. “It would’ve been nicer if it was a happier ending for him, but definitely better than what the alternative could have been.”
Both officers appreciated being recognized with POLC Outstanding Service Awards. “I’ve been doing this a while and never had any kind of recognition like that before,” said Officer Buczek, who has served with Bloomfield Township Police Department since 2005.
HART DETECTIVE SERGEANT KEVIN SKIPSKI
Hart Detective Sgt. Kevin Skipski has been honored for saving three lives in the line of duty, but it’s his extensive law enforcement and community service that earned him a 2021 POLC Outstanding Service Award (OSA).
Skipski is the department’s annual instructor for Tasers, first aid and CPR, bleeding control, skid cars and firearms. He’s also a PBT Calibrator, School Resource Officer and has been a Drill Instructor at West Shore Community College for 20 years. In his not so spare time, he writes grants for the department and volunteers at community events.
“I was honored when I got the (OSA) letter,” Skipski said. “It was a surprise and I was excited. It kind of brightened the last few months here,” he said referring to pandemic.
“Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but everything I do I enjoy so much. It’s not like it’s a burden,” said the 25-year Hart Police Department veteran. “I always promised myself, when I became a police officer, I wanted to give back to the community as much as possible. The community knows me well. Being in the schools, the kids trust me so much and I think that’s important.”
Skipski instructs Hart Middle School 5th graders in Teaching, Education and Mentoring (T.E.A.M.) and has conducted classes in sexting, drug and alcohol identification, internet safety, CPR-first aid and bleeding control for middle school and high school students. He even dons a “Safety Pup” outfit to promote positive relations between elementary students and law enforcement.
“Principals and Deans have called upon Det. Sgt. Skipski assists with many investigations at the schools, ranging from bullying issues, drug possession, vaping and a host of other sensitive issues,” wrote Hart Police Chief Juan Salazar in his nomination letter for the OSA Award. “The relationship that the Hart Police Department has at our public schools has never been stronger.”
Skipski volunteers for community events as a magician and through: Trunk or Treats, school functions such as prom and football games, and bicycle rodeos. He implemented Adopt a Family within his department, helping displaced families in need of assistance.
“To me, policing is looking beyond all the negativity,” Skipski said. “Whether it’s a magic show or volunteering for dunk tanks, I think it’s important for (people) to see you as a different person, not always as a police officer.”
“Since being promoted to Detective Sergeant (in 2016), Det. Sgt. Skipski has assisted the department on investigating high priority/complex complaints,” Salazar wrote. “This has allowed Road Patrol Officers to strictly focus on day-to-day issues and allowed Det. Sgt. Skipski to properly investigate these timely complaints.”
He’s even written and been awarded grants for community bicycle safety equipment and to conduct the T.E.A.M. program. He’s obtained department grants for tactical ballistic vests with armor, 5 Kevlar helmets, and combat application tourniquets with holders for each officer to wear on their duty belts.
Service for Skipski started right out of high school when he joined the U.S. Army. “I went two more times after 9-11,” Skipski said.
While the OSA was not for his lifesaving efforts, Skipski has been honored for saving three women in separate incidents, receiving two lifesaving and one commendation award from the American Police Hall of Fame.
“There are so many officers that do such great things,” Skipski said. “I read about it all the time. I’m just a small representation of them.”