Firing of local police chief shrouded in controversy

CALUMET — The hiring and subsequent firing of Calumet’s police chief continues to be mired in controversy.

The Village of Calumet is once again in need of a police chief. This comes after Chief Joel Dobis held the position for roughly two months.

Dobis began his brief tenure as a controversial hire after he was offered the job last summer pending recertification and a background check.

Former Calumet Trustee (2014-2016) Sidney Dharmavaram said, “It was discovered that there was an outstanding warrant since 2012 and there were three additional police reports.”

Dobis resolved the warrant for an NSF check but needed to be recertified since he had not served in law enforcement since 2002. He officially began performing his duties on November 15th but it was later discovered that his certification had not been reactivated until December 5 Calumet Village President Dave Geisler said, “There has been some question as to when he became MCOLES (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) certified. It is sad that he began his employment here in the village without having that certification, and according to the General Law Village Act, that is not correct.”

That technicality has been credited as the main reason for terminating the chief at the January Village Council meeting…but perhaps not the only one.

A group of residents also showed up to express their opposition to the new chief.

Calumet Village Resident Nathan Anderson said, “Well, there were businesses that felt that they were being targeted for surveillance. There were bar owners who felt that the area was being patrolled too much. There were instances where residents were in need of assistance, but were disrespected instead.”

Geisler said, “I don’t think it had a major influence, I think it probably had a minor influence.”

The council will convene for a special meeting on January 31 st at 6 p.m. to decide how to begin the process of identifying and employing a new police chief…and perhaps how not to make the same mistakes.

Dharmavaram said, “Not to have them sort it out at the committee level, make sure that the entire council gets every single one of the applications and gets to look at all of the information and all the facts and to do the background check prior to making a decision.”