(Crystal A. Proxmire, 5/12/2011)
“If I ever get hit, don’t wait for the ambulance. Take me in your car to the hospital yourself.”
That promise, exchanged early in his career with his partner back in Houston, Texas, re-emerged years later for Brian Czajkowski’s as he and the same partner, both working for Ferndale Police, came under fire after a car chase and a shoot-out.
From 1982-86 Czajkowski was a police officer in Houston, although he grew up nearby at 8 Mile and Dequindre in Detroit. He had been eager to come back to the Detroit area, and spoke often of his home. In 1987 when a position opened up in Ferndale, he jumped at the opportunity. Shortly after, his former partner Ward Lawrence, moved up north to join him. After that, another of their former co-workers made the same move.
“That tells you something about this Department,” he said. “It’s home to me.” He explained that “camaraderie” is the best part about being on the police force. “Everybody is like family.”
Now as Czajkowski retires as a Lieutenant, he remembers the day 15 years ago when a car chase brought he and Lawrence to a shootout at Manistee and 9 Mile in Oak Park.
“I couldn’t believe that it happened,” he said. Lawrence took bullets to the shoulder and the thigh. “As soon as he fell I scooped him up in my car and flew to the hospital. Nobody wants to think of their buddy getting shot, but I’m glad that I was there to be able to keep my promise and not leave him there bleeding and waiting.”
His friend recovered and is now a Sheriff in Kalamazoo County. Czajkowski has stayed in Ferndale, and has accomplished a lot in his quarter century of service.
In addition to bravely taking his fellow officer out of the line of fire and to the hospital, Czajkowski has protected the public through countless criminal situations.
In 1987 he was one of the founders of the SWAT Team, which serves Ferndale and other neighboring cities. He also was as an undercover narcotics officer for two years with Oakland County. He served on the streets for ten years before moving inside the station to work as a Sargent.
While Chief Tim Collins was an officer, Czajkowski was his Sargent. “He was a very easy guy to work for. All his people loved him, and they knew he would fight for his people. He’s really a good guy.”
In 2002 he was promoted to Lieutenant. For the past few years he has mainly worked the desk, directing the officers on the street. “I make sure the guys are taken care of, make we give them enough info so they’re safe and can get their job done,” he said. “I also babysit the prisoners and handle any complaints that come in.”
At home in Royal Oak, Czajkowski is a proud husband and father. His wife Rachel and teenage sons Nick and Matt can look forward to seeing even more of him in retirement, although he has taken a job doing public safety at a local college.
Due to Czajkowski’s retirement, Ferndale Police command team will be reduced by one. A Sargent will move up to Lieutenant, but that Sargent will not be replaced at this time, according to Chief Collins. Collins said that plans are in the works to have officers work 12 hour shifts instead of 8, which will cut down on overtime and administrative expenses as well as the need for the Sargent position.
For more Police related stories, check out our Police & Fire Section at https://oaklandcounty115.com/category/policeandfire/.