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Macomb Academy grad earns LEEP Award, hired by MSP

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: March 30, 2018

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Derek Staelgraeve dreamed of becoming a Michigan State Police (MSP) Trooper, but after he applied, he didn’t wait around to be hired. He paid his way through Macomb Police Academy.

So he was grateful when he received a Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award of $2,000 to help with those costs. “It meant a lot because, going through the academy, I didn’t exactly have much time to work. I was running out of money,” Staelgraeve said, adding that he wasn’t able to maintain a job. “I figured I’d apply for some scholarships and maybe make up some lost time per se.”

Photo courtesy of Macomb Police Academy
POLC Executive Committee Vice Chair Brian McNair (left) presents Macomb Police Academy graduate Derek Staelgraeve with a $2,000 LEEP Award Dec. 13, 2017.

Staelgraeve, 22, graduated Macomb Police Academy Dec. 13, 2017 and along the way was accepted into the 134th MSP Trooper Recruit School, which began in January. Once he completes the 22-week program, he will be assigned and start field training.

“They hired him so they are going to pay him to be in the police academy,” said Macomb Police Academy Director Raymund Macksoud. “He put time and effort to prepare himself for (the academy). He made the right decisions for himself. All around, he had no areas of weakness.”

Macksoud said Staelgraeve showed his willingness to work hard to go to the next step.

“I wanted to work in a bigger department with more room for advancement,” Staelgraeve said. “My ultimate goal is K9 unit. Even if I do something else, I think I have a better chance of advancing my career with them as opposed to a smaller department with only a few positions you can work up to.”

“State Police is where he’d really like to be first, but if that doesn’t work out for him, he can work anywhere he wants. He’s got a backup plan,”

Macksoud said. “Having gone through our academy should make life a little easier at the State Police academy.”

Staelgraeve has a family background in public safety. His father, Ken Staelgraeve, is full-time faculty with Macomb’s Fire Science Program and retired Fire Chief from Harrison Township and Bruce Township/Romeo. “My uncle worked for the (U.S.) Border Patrol and he’s an instructor for the federal government at their (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) facility in Georgia right now,” Derek Staelgraeve said.

“Growing up and seeing both of them in public service, just listening to the things they had to say made me want to get into the public service area,” he said. “I wasn’t the kind of kid who would be happy behind a desk. I wanted to actively get out and help people.”

So Staelgraeve got a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University and has career aspirations of changing the negative public mindset about law enforcement. “Some people aren’t really too fond of police. What I’m hoping to accomplish, at the end of each day, is that I made at least one person safer, that I helped at least one person,” Staelgraeve said. “Hopefully that way, I can help restore the relationship between the public and police.”

“He’s got a promising career,” Macksoud said. “He was a very well-rounded cadet for the program. He came well-prepared and it showed.”

The class of 39 graduating cadets overall was pretty successful. “We started with 19 non-sponsored, but they got jobs during the academy,” Macksoud said, adding only nine remained unsponsored. “We had good placement this time.”

“There were others that probably could’ve satisfied the (LEEP) requirements, but I think he earned it based on what he’ll have to still face,” Macksoud said. “He comes from a family of public service … and he is continuing on with those legacies.”

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