As a young man Mike Walleman always dreamed of playing in the NHL but as reality set in he began to look for something where he could be physical, use his head, and contribute to the community. Police work satisfied each of these desires. Mike is currently the Detective Lieutenant in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division with the St. Clair Shores Police Department in Michigan. “I enjoy working with the very talented detectives under my command,” he says. Their group is responsible for all of the major crimes that take place in town. “There is no greater thrill and sense of achievement than solving a homicide or other serious crime,” says Mike. “I miss being on the street in uniform chasing bad guys, but I can’t run as fast as I use to so I guess I’ll leave that up to the young officers.”
When asked what attracted him to Northern Michigan University, Mike replies, “I was looking for a respected university that offered an on-line master’s program in criminal justice. Working full-time in a position that requires 24/7 availability made it imperative that the program be flexible to accommodate my circumstances. I researched several other schools, but felt NMU could best serve my goals. I was not disappointed.”
After being a police officer for 20 years, seeking a Master in Criminal Justice Management degree just seemed like a natural choice for Mike. “This is where my interests lie and I felt a formal education, along with my experience would be beneficial to both myself and my department.” When Mike was asked about the program’s flexibility, he replied. “NMU’s online degree program provided me the flexibility to obtain my degree when I would not have otherwise been able to do so. Physically going to class and being regimented to that type of schedule would have prolonged my quest substantially,” says Mike. “Unlike the traditional classroom, online courses require discipline and even though the program has great flexibility, the course work is still very challenging and time consuming. Time organization and preplanning are imperative to staying on schedule and not become overwhelmed.” There are two positions left within his agency that he would like to obtain before he retires. They include deputy chief, and ultimately, police chief.
Mike was born and raised in the City of St. Clair Shores (SCS), Michigan, and has lived there his entire life. “During the '60s, '70s and '80s SCS was known as ‘Hockey Town USA’ before the Red Wings adopted the moniker. I grew-up playing ice hockey here starting at age six. I was fortunate to play on several state championship teams and also a national championship team at age 13. The city’s involvement made for a high level of recognition and the development of strong community pride.“
His love for ice hockey has carried over to his adult life. He has been very active in his community as a volunteer, and he has coached numerous youth ice hockey teams over the years. “I am a member of my department’s sponsored ‘Cops for Kids’ program raising approximately $30,000 to date through various fundraisers.” Mike’s most notable contribution has been his ability to organize three charitable hockey games between the SCSPD and the Detroit Red Wing Alumni. In 2003, he also spear-headed the creation of the Lakers, which is a unified high school hockey team comprised of players from the three SCS high schools. “As president of the SCS Lakers Unified Booster Club, we were able to raise approximately $150,000 over a three year period to fully fund the hockey program. This endeavor required a close working relationship with city government and the school boards of the three high schools.”
When asked who helped influence him to earn his degree, Mike says, “NMU’s criminal justice faculty and staff have been great, and all of my interactions with them have been positive. Dr. Kapla has been the most influential and positive force behind my degree. His counseling and direction has been extremely helpful. His support made me feel he had taken a personal interest in my success. This attention was instrumental in keeping me focused and motivated.” More than earning his advanced degree, which is important in his job, Mike has set high standards for himself. “I feel a successful police chief must possess high ethical standards and lead his agency with integrity. The chief must be of high moral character and display confidence in his leadership. The successful chief must hold his employees in high regard and treat them accordingly. In addition, the chief must do what is best for the agency, as a whole and never forget the purpose of policing which is to protect and serve the citizens they represent. These are lofty but necessary aspirations. Given the opportunity, I would strive to live up to these standards.”
As he laughs, Mike describes himself as “handsome, heroic, desirable, angelic, and modest.” But, more importantly is the description of his hero. “Henry Walleman, my father, is my hero. He was a strict disciplinarian who taught me right from wrong and the consequences for wrong decisions.” Mike’s dad worked for Ford Motor Company for 44 years as a maintenance welder. “He strived for perfection in his job and was the hardest working person I’ve ever known,” explains Mike. “He instilled honesty, pride, honor and a strong work ethic into all of his children. He held family above all else and insisted his children did as well. He was a child of the great depression, a WWII veteran, and a loving father and husband.”
Mike is the youngest in his family; he has two older brothers and two older sisters. “All have been instrumental in my life and have had a positive impact on me on many different levels.” The most important person in Mike’s development as a person was his mother, Shirley. “She was always the voice of reason and dedicated to the well being of our family. If my father was the structure she was the glue that held it all together for the benefit of us all.”
People can achieve many accomplishments in life, but for Mike, “My greatest accomplishment was marrying my wonderful wife Jackie of 28 years and raising three spectacular sons. My wife and I have a summer cottage in Buckley, Michigan, which is 20 miles south of Traverse City. It has 533 feet of lake frontage on a small inland lake called Lake Gitchegumee and we love spending time there for its relaxing qualities and the natural setting.“
Mike has faced other challenges and successes in his life. “I was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery to remove the disease.” Mike pauses, “it was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with.” To Mike, being successful means, “being happy with yourself and the life that you lead, to have the respect of your peers and your superiors and above all, to be loved and respected by your family.” Now that’s success.