Fresh off of his recognition as POAM’s 2009 Loyalty Award winner, Ottawa County Deputy Sheriff Matthew Van Liere was appointed to the POAM’s Executive Board at its September meeting. Matt’s devout sense of duty to his local association over an extended period of time and his accomplishments over that 15 year period as a local leader weighed heavily in Van Liere’s appointment to the POAM board.
Almost immediately after joining the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office in 1993, Van Liere became involved with local union activities, serving as a trustee for the first five years, vice president the next two, and the last eight years as president of the Ottawa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. When Matt first began working for the department, he was lucky enough to be partnered with its then-current president, who encouraged him to get involved and when a troubling personal experience with the new department occurred shortly thereafter, Van Liere dove into the local union business and has never looked back.
Matt has assisted POAM Business Agent Jim DeVries and POAM’s General Counsel, Frank Guido, in some epic battles with the County, including some landmark decisions that have had a long-lasting positive impact on every law enforcement officer in the state. Over the last few years, Van Liere has coerced other like-minded sheriff’s department employees to join his executive board and, combined with a changing of the guard within his department’s administration, management and employees have established a better working relationship and spirit of cooperation with the sheriff, eventually leading to fewer confrontations.
Van Liere was nominated for his position by his business agent, Jim DeVries. “The reason why I nominated Matt is because of his work ethic and the respect he has amongst so many law enforcement officers on the west side of the state,” said DeVries. “He is a work horse who volunteers his time on many department and community projects.”
VanLiere has been a member of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Michigan (DSAM) for 17 years, and became a DSAM rep for his area six years ago. He was named President of the organization one year ago and is working hard to enhance DSAM’s effectiveness in Lansing. “DSAM works hand in hand with POAM on many law enforcement issues in Lansing, especially those that directly impact sheriff’s department employees,” said VanLiere. “My goal is to recruit more members like POAM has in the last decade and work even more closely with POAM on issues of mutual interest to our members. My new position on the POAM Executive Board will help me accomplish that.”
Matt has roots that start in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and his family still owns property there, where he spends a lot of his free time. “There is a special feeling when you cross the Mackinac Bridge that I just can’t shake,” states Van Liere. “When I retire, you can bet that I’ll be recruiting more POAM and DSAM members from my home in the UP.”