MARQUETTE - Despite some challenges, the new commander of the Michigan State Police's Eighth District is looking forward to meet those challenges.
The MSP announced recently that John Halpin was promoted to captain and will serve as commander of the Michigan State Police's Eighth District, which covers the seven posts across the Upper Peninsula.
The posts provide personnel for traffic patrols, criminal investigations and emergency services, as well as staffing for task forces and special investigative units.
During his 25-year career with the MSP, Halpin has served at the Pontiac, Newberry, Manistique, Negaunee and Munising posts, as well as in the Criminal Investigation Division, Training Division, Forensic Science Division and Eighth District Headquarters in Marquette. Most recently, he served as detective first lieutenant at the headquarters, and oversaw post detectives throughout the U.P.
The biggest shift for Halpin, who took over as captain on April 29, will be to take a wider view of the state police.
"The big difference is I need to step back and look at the overall picture ... of the whole MSP, as it pertains to the Upper Peninsula," he said. "I will oversee all operations that have to do with the Michigan State Police."
A 52-year-old Marine City native, Halpin has held the ranks of trooper, specialist trooper, detective sergeant, specialist sergeant, first lieutenant and detective first lieutenant.
Halpin replaces Capt. Myles McCormack, who recently announced his retirement. McCormack had held his position since 2003. His MSP career spanned 26 years.
Halpin, who worked with McCormack for 14 years, is taking over as captain during a fiscally tenuous time for the MSP.
Statewide, the number of state police posts was cut from 62 to 29 as part of a regional policing plan announced last spring. The plan was aimed at helping the agency meet a $17.7 million general fund reduction for the 2012 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
Under the plan, 29 posts across the state will remain fully operational and open to the public, 19 posts will be retained as detachments and 14 posts will be closed in phases.
Once all the closures and restructuring is completed, seven state police regional posts will remain in the U.P., located at Negaunee, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Gladstone, Iron Mountain, Wakefield and Calumet.
There will be associated detachments in outside locations at Munising, Stephenson, L'Anse, Iron River and at post facilities in Newberry and Manistique.
Halpin said he understands the MSP's need to save money and said the agency is "downsizing buildings, but not bodies."
"We're still out there providing public safety and services," he said. "The challenges are new to me, but us, as the state police, we're heading in the right direction."
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.