Every year, the Police Officers Association of Michigan recognizes those officers who have shown exemplary acts of bravery in service. These officers are conferred with the distinctive Police Officer of the Year Awards. One of this year’s award recipients is Deputy Michael Westphal of St. Clair County.
The following account is according to a report submitted to the POAM supporting the nomination for the 19-year-veteran of the department.
Deputy Westphal’s Pursuit of a Suspect
On December 5, 2021, at approximately 1630 hours, Deputy Westphal received information from an anonymous informant. This informant had information about a suspect who had several felony warrants out in the county and neighboring counties. According to this informant, the suspect would be at the Golden Crest Apartment in the Port Huron area. He also disclosed the details of the suspect’s vehicle and the apartment unit he was expected to show up in.
Acting on this information, Deputy Westphal immediately went to the area’s location and alerted his backup, Deputy Mark King. Deputy Westphal did his surveillance at the scene in his marked vehicle. A while later, the suspect walked up to apartment 202. The suspect was on foot, and Deputy Westphal attempted to make contact with the suspect upon identification. Deputy Mark King was also nearby, on the outskirts of the apartment area. This was not the first time Deputy Westphal encountered the suspect. He has been on multiple calls that involved the subject before this day’s encounter.
Upon realizing he had been located by the authorities, the suspect ran. A foot pursuit ensued, and Deputy Westphal radioed Deputy King that the suspect was running away. While chasing down the suspect, Deputy Westphal held a taser in his hand, intending to tase the suspect when he got close enough. The apartment complex was a series of buildings; when he turned the corner of one building, Deputy Westphal caught up with the suspect.
The Encounter with the Suspect
Standing within six feet of each other, the suspect pulled out a .22 caliber gun and pointed it directly at Deputy Westphal. Realizing he was in a threatening situation, Deputy Westphal drew back and took cover under one of the apartment buildings. Deputy Westphal tucked away his taser and replaced it with his issued handgun. He also radioed other units to inform them that the suspect now had a weapon. Although backup was on the way, Deputy Westphal could not waste time waiting, as he knew this man meant trouble.
Deputy Westphal continued to chase the suspect for almost a mile until he reached his patrol unit. At this point, other teams now started to converge on the suspect. Now in his patrol car, Deputy Westphal drove to apprehend the suspect. The suspect was caught on the roadside in front of the apartment complex. Deputy Westphal was the first officer to arrive on the scene and made the arrest.
At this point, he was able to subdue the suspect and ordered him to the ground. He searched the suspect and found the 0.22 caliber gun he held earlier. The suspect was taken into custody that day, and all the details of this incident were reviewed on the bodycam that Deputy Westphal was wearing. Because of his bravery and quick thinking, no lives were lost on that day, and justice would be served to the perpetrator who had eluded the hands of justice for so long.
Thank You for Your Service
The POAM recognizes your exemplary service that day and hopes your example will inspire others to show bravery in the face of fear. The POAM is glad to confer Deputy Michael Westphal with the Police Officer of the Year Award.