2018-10-11 / News

Former Burton police chief retires after more than a quarter century

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Former Burton Police Chief Tom Osterholzer, 49, has retired after over 27 years of service. Osterholzer was considered a mentor to many, such as Mike Odette, interim police chief, who the mayor intends to recommend as the new police chief. Photo provided. Former Burton Police Chief Tom Osterholzer, 49, has retired after over 27 years of service. Osterholzer was considered a mentor to many, such as Mike Odette, interim police chief, who the mayor intends to recommend as the new police chief. Photo provided. BURTON — Former Burton Police Chief Tom Osterholzer, 49, has retired after more than 27 years of service.

He wrote a letter and turned it in to the mayor stating Oct. 3 would be his last day well in advance of his retirement.

“He has been offered another police chief position in Grand Ledge,” said Acting Police Chief Mike Odette.

Odette said it was an honor to work with Osterholzer because he provided great leadership.

“At one point in time when we were 29 officers, Osterholzer was instrumental in getting the millage passed that allowed us to get it back up to 36 officers (a safe number) and to purchase some officer safety equipment,” said Odette. “Osterholzer led us through some pretty difficult times financially. He led us through some difficult times in regards to some tragic incidents that happened with some of the employees. He was a guy that loved to participate in roll calls. He was usually here prior to 7 a.m. He sat on several boards and had all types of meetings he was responsible to go to.”

According to Odette, Osterholzer was loyal and dedicated to the city and the department, was hands-on and never secluded himself in the chief’s office, but attended functions such as Back to the Bricks. Odette considered him a mentor and friend.

Osterholzer was born Nov. 22, 1968 in Downers Grove, Illinois. He graduated from Holy Rosary High School in 1987, where he played and lettered in football and baseball and was involved in yearbook and weight lifting. He then attended Central Michigan University, Mid-Michigan Police Academy at Lansing Community College and Ferris State University. Osterholzer is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was an honor guard drill sergeant E-5.

Osterholzer became a patrolman with the Burton Police Department April 29, 1991, was promoted to sergeant Dec. 7, 1998 and to a lieutenant in Oct. 27, 2003. He served as interim chief in 2007, traveled with other Burton officers in 2005 to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and was promoted to police chief Jan. 7, 2012.

The department assisted with Shop with a Hero, in which local children from needy families shop with officers from the department, a diaper drive and Pack the Truck, which provides school supplies to school-aged children living in Burton.

Osterholzer married his wife, Jill, in July 10, 1992 and the couple had four children: Emma, Alex, Ellie and Michael. Osterholzer’s community involvement included being chairman of the board of the Voices for Children Advocacy Center, being a member of the Old Newsboys and serving on the Burton Rotary Club.

Odette has been named interim police chief. Rik Hayman, chief of staff for Mayor Paula Zelenko, confirmed it is Zelenko’s intent to recommend Odette to be the next police chief.

All Charter Five employees of the city, such as the police chief position, are appointed by the mayor, subject to approval of the council, who will vote on the matter at the Oct. 15 city council meeting.

“I learned how to care about employees from Osterholzer,” Odette said.

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