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November 2003

Officer Brian Misiak

City of Hamtramck (MI) Police Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Brian Misiak as its Officer of the Month for November 2003. Officer Misiak, a seven year veteran with the department, he has been assigned to its community policing program since May 2002.

In January 1996 when the time came for Brian Misiak to decide on a career, the choice was an easy one, as serving the citizens of Hamtramck, Michigan is what the Misiak family is known for. Brian's dad, David Misiak, joined the Hamtramck Police Department in 1972 and his uncle, Daniel Misiak followed his lead in 1986. Of particular pride for the Misiak's is the fact that as patrolmen all three carried badge #43. Upon being promoted to sergeant, both David and younger brother Daniel respectively each carried badge #81. No one can say what the future holds, but Officer Brian Misiak would proudly wear badge #81 should he too be promoted to sergeant. For the Misiak family, law enforcement is not just a career, it is a family affair.

Before long Officer Misiak garnered quite a reputation for himself, impressing his supervisors with his motivation and positive attitude toward public service. In addition to receiving his Associate's Degree in criminal justice from Macomb Community College, he completed a myriad of training seminars in subjects ranging from violence in the workplace to high risk felony vehicle stops.

In 1998 Officer Misiak received four Departmental Citations after climbing a spotlight tower at the high school's football stadium to convince a man who threatened suicide to return to safety. He and his partner were also credited with saving the lives of several occupants whose home was engulfed in a fiery blaze. In 2002 he applied for and was granted a special assignment to the community policing program working with low income and senior citizen residents of Hamtramck.

On August 14, 2003 the northeast United States experienced a catastrophic blackout that plunged hundreds of cities, including Hamtramck, into darkness. The entire department was working overtime during this national crisis trying to maintain peace and calm in a city which was virtually dark. The police department was able to operate with portable generators; however, the telephone system was completely inoperable for many hours.

At 10:40 p.m. an alarm sounded at a local jewelry store and officers, including Officers Misiak and Scott Zelenock, were dispatched to the scene. Upon arrival the officers noticed the shattered window of the storefront and a suspect fleeing the scene. With little regard for their own safety, Officer Misiak and Officer Scott Zelenock gave chase attempting to apprehend the suspect. Just as Officer Misiak was drawing near, the suspect turned and fired one round from a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun. The slug tore into Officer Misiak's left arm at the elbow, nearly severing it.

Despite unimaginable pain and severe blood loss, Officer Misiak continued to chase the suspect and finally tackled him. With the assistance of his partner, Reserve Officers Mark Radtke, Melanie Babij and Reserve Sergeant William Wilford, the suspect was taken into custody. Officer Zelenock applied pressure to Officer Misiak's wound as Officer Misiak was raced to the hospital for emergency surgery. Doctors confirmed that if not for the quick actions of Officer Zelenock and the three reserve officers would surely have died from his injury.

Officer Misiak lost five inches of bone in his left forearm, with mere fragments of his elbow remaining. He has endured seven surgeries, with at least two more expected. His courageous actions earned him the department's Citation for Valor, while his attacker was charged with nine separate felony charges. The prognosis is good for Officer Misiak; he should regain 90 percent mobility in his arm with extensive rehabilitation. "Brian has shown that he is skilled in many facets of police work as he has been effective in every assignment ranging from traffic enforcement to narcotics," said Chief Jim Doyle of the City of Hamtramck Police Department. "His actions on August 14 are unparalleled in the years I have been with this department. His demonstration of bravery and determination should be recognized in ways that will not easily be forgotten."