Former West Bloomfield Twp. police chief Ronald Cronin dies

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Orion Township — Retired West Bloomfield Township Police Chief Ronald D. Cronin died Wednesday night in hospice in an Orion Township assisted living facility. He was 77.

Cronin was West Bloomfield’s top cop for 19 years before retiring in 2010. Before that he spent 24 years with the Detroit Police Department, working everything from narcotics and organized crime and arson. Among other roles, he was an executive lieutenant in the chief’s office and an inspector running special operations.

Ronald Cronin

Cronin received multiple citations and decorations during his career as a Detroit police officer, including a Purple Heart and the department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, after being wounded in the leg and hand in an early morning shootout inside a restaurant in 1974 where he was on an undercover assignment. The gunman killed three people and wounded others before Cronin fatally shot him, Warren Police Chief William Dwyer said.

“Unquestionably Ron saved several other lives that night while risking his own,” said Dwyer, who was Cronin’s supervising sergeant at the time.

“Ron was a good friend, a good cop respected by everyone who worked (with) and knew him and the toughest guy I ever met in more than 50 years of law enforcement.”

Years later when Dwyer was chief of the Farmington Hills Police Department and Cronin headed West Bloomfield’s police force, they conducted joint investigations in Oakland County.

“He had several medical issues, especially over the past 10 years, but he never complained,” said Dwyer, who recalled Cronin attending a charity golf outing for police officers wearing a helmet following a brain operation.

Cronin had been in assisted living care following heart surgery a few years ago, his son said.

Cronin grew up on Detroit’s west side near Seven Mile and Southfield, graduated from Detroit Benedictine High School and received a bachelor of arts degree from University of Mercy.

He became a Detroit police officer in 1968 and in 1991 hired on as police chief in West Bloomfield. He served on boards of both the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oakland Police Chiefs organization

Cronin’s two sons, Kevin and Scott, followed him into police work. Scott is still a detective sergeant with the Farmington Hills force. Kevin, now retired, started his own investigations and security firm.

“He loved life, loved being a cop, but loved his family even more,” said Kevin Cronin, who described his father as his “best friend.”

“Scott and I followed in his footsteps. He taught us a lot of lessons as children and later more lessons as adults.”

Cronin’s sons were with him in his final hours Wednesday and toasted him bedside with a traditional Irish prayer.

“A few minutes later, Dad passed away peacefully,” he said.

Cronin had a twin brother, Don, who died a month ago in Boca Raton, Fla. Don Cronin owned and operated the popular Dunleavy’s Irish Pub on Grand River for several years.

In addition to his sons, Ron Cronin is also survived by an older sister, Pat Summers of St. Clair Shores; brothers Robert Cronin of Florida and William Cronin of Houghton Lake; five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. He and his former wife, Jolan, divorced after 27 years of marriage but remained friends, Kevin Cronin said.

Funeral arrangements were still incomplete, his son said.

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