2018-01-10 / Front Page

Moving on over

Sgt. Stokes retires from Lapeer; begins at Lapeer Twp.
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com

Sgt. William Stokes, 59, retired Monday after working 29 years with the Lapeer Police Dept. He starts today as the new chief of the Lapeer Township Police Dept. 
Photo by Jeff Hogan Sgt. William Stokes, 59, retired Monday after working 29 years with the Lapeer Police Dept. He starts today as the new chief of the Lapeer Township Police Dept. Photo by Jeff Hogan LAPEER — For all but a few months of a 29-year career with the Lapeer Police Dept. Sgt. William Stokes never needed to invest in a good pair of sunglasses. That’s because Stokes worked the midnight shift — and he liked it. He preferred working the streets when most of the city was asleep.

It was a different city at night, and it allowed him to develop his policing skills.

“You generated your own complaints. You knocked on windows and doors to make sure buildings were locked and became very observant of the city at night. On midnights I did a lot of proactive policing and I’ve always enjoyed that part of it,” said Stokes.

But starting today, Stokes will working in the broad daylight when he starts a new job as Chief of the Lapeer Township Police Dept. Stokes, 59, worked his last midnight shift Monday night, and had just one day off before he put on his new uniform down the road in Lapeer Township.

On Monday, the City of Lapeer held a luncheon in honor of Stokes to celebrate his retirement in the truck bays of Lapeer Fire & Rescue at the Lapeer Public Safety Building on West Genesee Street where Stokes reported to work for nearly the last 30 years. He was joined by members of his family, fellow Lapeer police officers, retired officers who came to see him off, city staff as well as local judges, Sheriff Scott McKenna, Undersheriff Jeremy Howe, other deputies with the sheriff’s department as well as state Rep. Gary Howell who presented him with a proclamation from the State of Michigan.

Stokes grew up in the Fostoria area in southern Tuscola County where he attended Mayville High School.

His introduction in law enforcement began at the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. where he worked at the jail for a year before starting as a reserve officer with the Lapeer Police Dept. in 1998 — the same year new Police Chief Dave Frisch started with the department as well.

On Jan. 4, 1989 he started full-time with Lapeer and soon thereafter began earning accommodations and honors that continued up to January 2017. He earned awards from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in both 1993 and 1994.

His service included a stint with the Thumb Narcotics Unit from July 1995 to October 1999.

Stokes was promoted to sergeant in 2004.

He earned one of his merit awards from the department for a July 3, 2005 incident response he conducted. Stokes was requested to respond to 141 Hill Drive in Lapeer Township after a report that two people had been shot and the shooter was still at large.

Stokes was the first officer to arrive on scene. He found that two people had indeed been shot. While trying to determine where the shooter might be, three more gunshots rang out from a nearby wooded area.

Acting quickly in a tense, dangerous situation where two people had already been seriously wounded by gunfire Stokes determined it was too dangerous for EMS personnel to respond to the scene, so he put the injured subjects into his patrol car and drove them to a safer area away from the location where ambulance crews who safely administer aid to the shooting victims.

He earned a Merit Award by then Chief Todd Alexander for the courage and coolness under fire that helped to prevent further injury to the public, himself and to other officers.

At the luncheon celebration Stokes was joined by his wife, Stephanie, as well as two of their four children — daughter Erin, 31 and Collin, 18. Sons Brett, 34, and Adam, 28, had to work.

While promising not to get too emotional, Stokes thanked his wife for her support and the many years of sacrificed time she allowed him to serve the citizens of Lapeer while raising their children.

“She’s my rock. She keeps me on the straight and narrow,” said Stokes. “If I came home all stressed out about something that happened I could talk to her and she would calm be down.”

Stokes also made good on a promise to spend more time with his youngest son, Collin. “I always said I would retire by the time he was a senior in high school, and this year he is and will be going off to college soon.”

Excited to start a new career — as a police chief — Stokes has already taken some classes to help prepare for working on budgets and contracts, and he’s looking forward to a hiring a new officer for the Lapeer Township department.

He’s also excited to see more sunshine. It will take a few weeks to adjust to the new daytime schedule, but Stokes is ready.

“Sometimes things just work out. This new opportunity came up and I’m excited to get going on it,” said Stokes.

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