Taylor Auxiliary Police patrol, recruit volunteers at Southland
Most people who see the uniformed officers patrolling Southland Center during the holiday shopping season don’t know they’re volunteers.
But the shoppers, store employees and mall management agree that the members of the Taylor Auxiliary Police are making a difference at a time when they’re needed the most.
The 55-member force supplements the full-time Taylor Police Department year-round. During the busy Christmas shopping season, the volunteer officers turn much of their focus on Southland, where they will log hundreds of hours.
Patrolling Southland, which has more than 130 businesses, is a 15-year tradition. Saturday night, December 8, there were four uniformed officers on duty, supplementing the members of the Southland security detail. Their responsibilities ranged from providing directions to lost customers to investigating a report of counterfeit money.
“Having officers stationed on site is very advantageous,” said Lt. Justin Mordarski. “Not only does officer presence serve as an excellent deterrent, but response time is greatly reduced should a situation requiring attention happen to arise.
“It is very helpful when officers are in a position to investigate reports of a suspicious person or situation immediately. Finally, an officer regularly assigned to a specific area should become familiar with his or her surroundings, thereby gaining the ability to recognize things that seem out of place.”
Shopper Sharron Mysliwiec of Woodhaven said any police presence makes a difference, especially in light of the recent shooting rampage at a mall in Omaha, Neb., that left eight people killed.
“Anything can happen when you’re out in public,” Mysliwiec said. “You always feel a little safer knowing someone is there for you. I just feel safer knowing that if I had a problem there would be someone I could turn to.”
Mall employees agreed.
“It’s a lot more comfortable having actual cops in here,” said April Manier, a sales clerk at World of Racing and former manager at Yogurt Delight. “We have more security guards and cops that come through and keep it safe.”
On an average mall patrol, Mordarski said, the officers can walk an estimated five to six miles per shift.
“Our volunteer officers donated close to 600 hours during the previous holiday season,” he said. “Most other jurisdictions don’t do what we do because of the costs involved, but our unique program allows the city of Taylor to deliver an optimal level of protection and security at no additional cost to either the taxpayers or the merchants. The clever design of our program insulates us from the state budget problems and from the cuts in municipal revenue sharing.”
Taylor resident John Barrett, who is chief engineer at Southland, said the auxiliary police supplement the presence of mall security and add to the comfort of shoppers.
“A lot of people like to see security and police officers, just knowing they’re here,” Barrett said. “We like them. They do a wonderful job. We welcome their presence.”
Southland appreciates the Auxiliary Police Department’s efforts so much that management allows the volunteer group to recruit more members. The drive, held December 15-16, attracted more than two dozen candidates.
Auxiliary Officer John Cameron of Dearborn applied to the department after a friend told him about the recruiting drive in 2006. A year later, he was patrolling the mall with Modarski. Cameron, who recently served with the U.S. Navy in Iraq, said he enjoys working the variety of assignments and giving back to the community.
Cpl. Kathy Laginess, who also patrolled Southland in December, signed up during a recruiting drive after a friend encouraged her to investigate the display at the mall. An accounting associate at a financial institution, Laginess is now a five-year veteran of the department. She said she has enjoyed learning new skills, especially those related to personal protection, and being a member of the auxiliary bike patrol. She said her “fellow officers are like family.”
Mordarski, who is scheduled to graduate from Wayne State University next semester Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, was auxiliary officer of the year in 2004. He called Taylor’s auxiliary “a model program – not only for Downriver, but the entire state.”
“We deliver a high level of protection over an extended time frame at no cost to either the taxpayers or the business community,” Mordarski said. “We are one of the biggest reserve or auxiliary programs in the entire state.”
About the Taylor Auxiliary Police
Duties: The Taylor Auxiliary Police is a volunteer organization whose members are required to donate at least 20 hours a month. Those duties have included:
●Presidential security details for Presidents Bush and Clinton
●Taylor emergency disaster assistance
●Homeland security defense training with state and federal officials
●City of Taylor Summer Festival and fireworks
●Various city functions
●Southland Center during the holiday shopping season
The department also has a very active mountain bike patrol unit.
Members: Officers come from all walks of life. They include students and people who have full-time jobs.
Training: The Auxiliary Police has one of the finest reserve training programs in the state. Recruit officers must complete 219 hours of class-type instruction, physical fitness and range training. Within the 16-week program the largest amount of time is dedicated to range training, which teaches recruits 52 hours of weapons proficiency. The training academy meets Sundays and for a few hours Monday evenings. The training program concludes with a graduation ceremony with the officers, their families and city officials.
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 21 years old, have a clean criminal record and a clean driving record, be a U.S. citizen and have a high school diploma or GED.
How to Get Involved: The Auxiliary Police recruitment drive took place December 15 and 16 at Southland. Those unable to attend the recruiting event can leave a voice mail at (734) 374-4050.
Lt. Justin Modarski and Officer John Cameron of the Taylor Auxiliary Police patrol Southland Center last Saturday night.
Mike Prichard (left) of Brownstown Township tells Lt. Justin Modarski and Officer John Cameron that he's interested in joining the Taylor Auxiliary Police.
Lt. Justin Modarski (left) and Officer John Cameron of the Taylor Auxiliary Police talk about the busy holiday shopping season at Southland with April Manier, a sales clerk at World of Racing.