By Ed Jacques, LEJ Editor
Honesty. Integrity. Humility. Without those qualities it’s nearly impossible to survive in a Public Safety Director’s Job, especially in a large community where the population has more than doubled within a decade. Political pressures and all the other issues that come with the job as Canton Township Public Safety Director never changed the man that was hired to build and create the department in 1985.
That is just one of the reasons why POAM has named John R. Santomauro as its Police Executive of the Year for 2009.
To cite Santomauro’s personal qualities as the only reason for his success would be misleading. John has over 40 years experience in public safety, starting in Farmington, Michigan where he eventually served as its Deputy Director of Public Safety. He was then hired by the Township of Pittsfield as Director of Public Safety from 1982 until 1985 when he was recruited to Canton Township where he became the architect of one of the most progressive and responsive public safety departments in the State of Michigan.
Prior to his law enforcement career, John Santomauro served in the United States Marine Corp. as a Platoon Sergeant assigned to an infantry unit where he received the Purple Heart, along with many other personal and unit citations. “The Marine Corps is leadership training in its purest form,” said John. “It is more significant than university style training and applies the same principles that all effective leaders must have.” Although long overdue, POAM’s acknowledgement of Santomauro comes just in time. John has recently announced that he will be retiring January 1, 2010, ending his distinguished law enforcement career. In typical fashion, Santomauro credited his employees for the POAM award and his successful career.
Longtime Canton Township PSOA President Dave Boljesic has a ton of respect for Santomauro and will be sorry to see him leave. “John was always available when an important topic needed to be discussed,” said Boljesic. “He is a good communicator, and a great listener who was willing to change his mind when presented with a compelling argument.”
When asked about his formula for success, Santomauro states that “directing people is easy, influencing them is the difficult part. Police administrators need to establish credibility to do that.” John feels that he always understood the police culture and his goal has been to “encourage the courage.”
The numerous challenges that Santomauro overcame while leading a public safety department from 30 officers to over 200 employees qualify him as POAM’s Police Administrator of the Year. But in the end, John R. Santomauro was always the leading candidate in POAM’s number one criteria when deciding who to honor. He cares deeply about the families and careers of the officers that serve underneath him.