By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — The latest tragedy to fall upon the Taylor Police Department was confirmed when a veteran officer was found dead May 23 in his Ypsilanti Township home.
Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said officer Michael Rich, 38, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
As of press time Washtenaw County Medical examiner had not yet confirmed the cause of death, but that it was being investigated as a suicide. Rich was not on duty at the time of the incident.
Rich, born and raised in Taylor, had joined the department in 2000 and served as a patrol officer, field training officer and with a federal drug task force. Rich was selected to cycle in the 2012 Peace Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington, D.C.
Frequently decorated, Rich received multiple awards and citations in his career, and was an “outstanding officer” who Sclabassi said will be remembered as “well liked and respected.” Rich was survived by a wife and two children.
The tragedy marks the third death of a Taylor police officer after Cpl. Matthew Edwards and Auxilliary Lt. Dan Kromer were killed in the line of duty in 2010.
“This is a shock for our department,” Sclabassi said in a statement. She noted the higher-than-average rates of suicide and depression-related conditions among police officers, whose daily lives include both risk to their lives and frequent encounters with tragic, hostile circumstances.
“How many shootings can you go to?” Sclabassi said. “How many domestic violence victims, drug overdose victims can you see?”
Sclabassi said the department’s thoughts and prayers went to the Rich family. Donations of remembrance can be mailed to: Thin Blue Line of Michigan, P.O. Box 415, Howell, MI, 48844.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)