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Check-in with the Chief: Livonia's Thomas Goralski

Posted at 6:23 PM, Dec 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-08 18:23:27-05

LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — We are just a few weeks from Christmas and the Livonia Police Department is already in the holiday spirit collecting gifts.

They’re also inspiring young people to go into law enforcement and honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

7 Action News caught up with Livonia Police Department Chief Thomas Goralski at Larry Nehasil Park, which honors fallen first responders and public servants.

“This park was built about 10 years ago after we lost one of our officers, Larry Nehasil, to a violent death. Larry was on one of our surveillance teams and they were following home invaders and they went in to make the arrest and the home invader fled. And he shot Larry in a backyard and Larry was able to return fire and killed the assailant too,” Goralski said. “But we lost Larry that day and it hit home hard because we never lost an officer.

The park was not built by the city but by citizens.

“It’s a reminder to us as a police department how much our city supports us,” Goralski said.

The park is also a reminder of how much the department sacrifice for the community, putting their lives on the line every day. Sometimes people forget that part of police work.

“I think it’s very important that our officers in Livonia bond with the community for those reasons. We’re seeing people on sometimes their worst day.”

He said events the department is a part of helps them “see people on their best days.”

“Every summer, we invite hundreds of kids to our police departments for what’s called Passport to Safety. That’s where they go around to different stations and get their passport stamped,” the chief said.

The department also participates in Toys for Tots every year.

“We posted on social media about a week ago and the boxes were filled in a couple days,” Goralski said.

In an event called Our Team Supports Your Team, the department spends time with local high school football teams and barbecues for them.

One challenge the department has been facing is a recent rise in stolen vehicles.

“And the reason for that is probably because they’re getting easy to steal again. We’ve been working with the car companies,” Goralski said. “We’ve actually formed a task force this summer with other agencies, and that task force has done a really good job of curtailing stolen vehicles in our city.”

The chief said metro Detroit is a “very competitive” area when it comes to retaining officers in the department.

“We have to stay competitive too, right? So, the city just settled contracts with both of our police unions. They’re incredibly good contracts for our officers and I have no doubt that’s going to help us to hire new officers, retain our current officers and keep this city safe as it’s always been with good quality, professional officers,” Goralski said.

After 34 years wearing the badge, Goralski is still inspired to serve.