Ex-Harper Woods cop pleads not guilty in theft case
Harper Woods Police Chief Jim Burke reassures the community after former police officer Michael Lynch was arraigned on numerous charges including larceny and possession of heroin. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Harper Woods — A former Harper Woods police officer was charged Wednesday with stealing from the department’s property room and with a drug violation.
The former officer, 37-year-old Michael Lynch, was arraigned in 32A District Court. Facing the judge with his hands in his pocket, Lynch pleaded not guilty.
Lynch is accused of stealing “various items” from the Harper Woods Police Department’s property room Feb. 4-10.
Harper Woods Police Chief Jim Burke said Wednesday the case was uncovered by his officers and turned over to Michigan State Police in February.
“Our officers discovered it and investigated it,” he said. “When we realized we had a problem, we did the right thing.”
Burke said “a case like this is disappointing personally since it’s one of our police officers.”
He added: “What I’m concerned about is how our community feels about it.”
However, the chief added that the community can “have faith in our department” that it is doing its job.
Burke declined to discuss details of the case, including what Lynch allegedly stole. That information will be presented during his preliminary examination in October, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Judge Daniel Palmer set a probable cause conference for Sept. 27.
Lynch’s attorney, Gary Sanfield, asked for a personal bond, saying Lynch was a decorated officer of 18 years with no evidence of alcohol or drug problems.
“These allegations are nothing but allegations,” the defense attorney said. He called a prosecutor’s request for drug and alcohol screening “way over-ambitious.”
Palmer set bond at $50,000 and ordered Lynch to take a drug test within 24 hours, with random tests twice a week after that.
The judge also ordered that Lynch not possess firearms or “any other dangerous weapons.”
The former police officer, who was a detective, is charged with one count of possession of heroin, misconduct in office and six counts of larceny in a building. The formal reading of the charges in court was waived.
According to the city’s website, Lynch had been with the department for more than 10 years and was the president of the police union for Harper Woods Police Department.
Lynch’s attorney said the officer has a “spotless” record. When asked if Lynch had any previous problems on the job, Burke declined to comment.
Burke said any time a police officer gets into trouble “it is harmful to myself, the profession and obviously my department. We’re a smaller department.”
The Harper Woods Police Department has 29 full-time officers and seven part-time ones.