Former Harper Woods police officer charged with stealing from station

By: Brendan Losinski, | Advertiser Times | Published August 9, 2017

A former Harper Woods police officer has been accused of removing several items, including an unknown amount of heroin, from the department’s property room.

Former officer Michael Lynch was arraigned in Judge Daniel Palmer’s 32-A District Court in Harper Woods Aug. 9. Lynch is an 18-year law enforcement veteran and a resident of St. Clair Shores. He has been charged with one count of misconduct in office, six counts of larceny in a building and one count of possession of heroin. He pleaded “not guilty” at the arraignment.

The items went missing between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10. Lynch was dismissed from the department later in the month after an investigation into the missing items began.

 Former Harper Woods police officer Michael Lynch, right, and attorney Gary Sanfield, left, stand during Lynch's arraignment in 32-A District Court in Harper Woods Aug. 9.

Former Harper Woods police officer Michael Lynch, right, and attorney Gary Sanfield, left, stand during Lynch's arraignment in 32-A District Court in Harper Woods Aug. 9.

Photo by Sean Work

“My client is an 18-year police veteran who has no evidence of drug or alcohol problems,” Lynch’s attorney, Gary Sanfield, said in court. “He has a spotless reputation prior to these charges.”

A probable cause conference has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, and a preliminary examination has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4.

State attorneys requested bond conditions including no alcohol or illicit drugs, random drug screenings three days a week, and drug and alcohol counseling. Palmer set a $50,000 personal bond, agreed to no alcohol and no illicit drugs as a condition, and drug testing done twice a week until Lynch’s next court date. Lynch also is prohibited from possessing firearms or dangerous weapons.

“We do not wish to make a comment at this time,” Sanfield said after the judge’s ruling. “We have not gone through discovery yet; we pled not guilty and that is our position right now.”

Harper Woods police are disturbed by the case.

“A case like this is very disappointing personally,” said Harper Woods Police Chief James Burke. “Anytime a police officer is potentially implicated in something like this, it’s damaging to all police officers.”

Burke said his main concern is his department’s standing in the community and assuring the public that they are an upstanding department that can be relied on for protection and assistance.

“My concern is reassuring our residents,” said Burke. “We want the people of Harper Woods and the surrounding communities to have faith in us.”

Harper Woods police investigators began the investigation when suspicions arose regarding the property room. They handed over the case to outside investigators, which is routine in a case including allegations against an officer.

“We began the investigation,” said Burke. “When it appeared criminal charges could be brought, we turned it over to the Michigan State Police. … (We) worked closely with the state police, but it is their investigation, so I’m limited in being able to comment on it.”