Grayling police chief/city manager to retire after 13 years of service
Wed, 07/27/2022 - 10:09am caleb
City of Grayling promotes from within to fill the vacant positions
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling City Manager/Police Chief Doug Baum is retiring at the end of the month following more than 13 years of service to the community.
Baum started as the police chief for the City of Grayling in 2009. Around a year later, the city added the city manager role to his job on an interim basis, and the change later became permanent.
“One of the things I really enjoyed coming to Grayling, I was accepted and received very well by the community,” Baum said.
Baum said he started his law enforcement career in 1994 in corrections. His career included serving as a detective and sheriff in Montmorency County.
Baum said he worked a lot of child abuse, sexual abuse, and elder abuse cases while serving as a detective, and he always tried to be as thorough as possible on behalf of the victims.
“My philosophy in police work is to handle every complaint as if you’re going to a jury trial and you have to prove every piece of the case,” Baum said. “You never know where a complaint might go. There’s nothing worse than not doing the best investigation you can do.”
Baum said victims of child abuse and sexual abuse carry that victimization “for the rest of their lives,” and some of the abuse he investigated had gone on for decades. Some of the victims grew up to be abusers. He said it was a challenging line of work because often times people did not want to speak about the abuse.
“I did everything possible for those cases. You do it for the victim,” Baum said. “Those were always the cases that drove me crazy.”
Baum said when leading departments he tried to instill in his officers “to never leave any stone unturned and never take any shortcuts.”
Baum said it’s been difficult the last couple of years seeing the negative perception of law enforcement based on the actions of a few officers that have received national media attention (actions he said he does not condone).
“Even to this day I hold the highest regard for law enforcement. You hear about a case here, a case there, but you don’t hear about the hundreds of thousands of police interactions that are positive. Law enforcement officers do so many good things for their community with that struggle that people hate them just because they’re an officer,” Baum said. “It’s sad where the mentality has gone in our society. Fortunately there are a lot of people willing to stand up and say they support law enforcement.”
As city manager, Baum said he’s enjoyed trying to make the community a better place and seeing the progress despite limited resources.
“I’ve really enjoyed being in the position to help Grayling do everything Grayling can to progress and be the best community we can be for our people,” Baum said.
Baum mentioned the process of Grayling entering the Main Street program, and he credited Terry Dickinson with being relentless in the effort to get the community accepted.
“Without that push I don’t think that program would’ve come here when it did,” Baum said.
Baum said the Main Street program allowed the community to work with state partners and “bring services and dollars to Grayling.” He said it has been a “balancing act” using city resources in pursuit of those programs, but in the long run it has paid off.
“I think it’s been worth it by far,” Baum said.
“Economic development” and “attracting businesses” and working with other municipalities in the community toward those goals have been significant parts of the job, Baum said.
“Early on we found that showing businesses that local government was here to work with them and not be their obstacle meant a lot,” Baum said.
Baum and the City of Grayling recently agreed to a three-year contract extension. Baum said he planned to fulfill those three years and possibly work for one more year, but he has decided to retire now due to health reasons.
“I love my job. I really do. I look forward to coming to work every day. It’s been really enjoyable,” Baum said.
Baum said he’s enjoyed working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Authority and the Grayling Promotional Association.
“I absolutely loved working with the ladies from GPA. It’s so fun to work with them. It really is. The work they do for the community is outstanding,” Baum said.
Baum said he always tried to be open minded when groups came to the city with requests and proposals.
“We need to consider everyone’s ideas and take them serious,” Baum said.
Baum said he hopes Grayling will continue to grow in ways that offer “unique businesses and shopping” without losing its small town atmosphere.
“Moving into the future my hope is Grayling continues to grow but not become a box store community. I think there are so many other potential areas to grow other than box stores,” Baum said.
“One thing I’ve been really proud of is going to regional meetings and state meetings, people talk about Grayling and how many good things are happening and the growth,” Baum said. “I give a ton of credit to organizations like GPA and the DDA and the chamber, and a lot of that credit goes to my staff for working hard to bring that growth.”
Baum said he met with Zoning Administrator Erich Podjaske, Deputy Police Chief Amanda Clough, and Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Chelsea Goodwin years ago with regard to them being the eventual “succession plan.”
“I told those three, ‘I want to invest in you,’” Baum said.
Goodwin is now the City Clerk/Treasurer. Clough has taken over as the Chief of Police, and Podjaske will take over as interim city manager on August 1.
“Chelsea has been able to step in and do phenomenal,” Baum said. “Amanda was more than ready. She is a leader. She certainly knows her stuff. I have no reservations in her ability to move the police department forward and be the best it can be. Erich has always been that employee that he’s always looking at what can we do to better the community.”
“I have a great staff overall. My police officers, my firefighters. DPW is always short-handed; they work their butts off and they do such a great job. My officers, they want to do things for the community because they understand they take care of the community and the community takes care of us,” Baum said.