By Steve Zoski, Daily News Editor
Published July 12, 2012
At Monday’s Ann Arbor City Council meeting, Mayor John Hieftje and City Administrator Steven Powers will recommend that the “interim” be dropped from John Seto’s title as interim police chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department.
Upon council approval, Seto will become the full-time police chief and the safety services area administrator — the city’s charter states that the police chief also holds this position, which oversees the police and fire departments.
Seto’s recommendation, first reported by AnnArbor.com, comes after Seto served as the interim chief since March 7.
Seto, an Eastern Michigan University alum, has worked for the AAPD since 1990 and previously worked for the University.
Hieftje said Seto was destined for the role.
“If you look back over John’s entire career, it was easy to see that he was a leader and that he was on a path that was going to bring him to the top of the organization,” Hieftje said.
Hieftje added that Seto will be an ideal chief for the University town of Ann Arbor, which has a campus police force — the University’s Department of Public Safety — as well.
“John has long experience working with U of M’s Department of Public Safety, and in fact, we have some officers that used to be with the Ann Arbor Police Department that are working over there,” Hieftje said. “We have great rapport with them.”
In an interview, Powers said Seto was the obvious choice to permanently fill the position.
“John meets the needs that the department has for a strong leader who will serve the community and help police and fire accomplish their mission of protecting and serving the public,” Powers said.
Powers said Seto was chosen after looking at other candidates from within the system.
“I felt that it was healthy for the safety services departments to have an internal candidate if there was a strong internal candidate, and John was that candidate,” Powers said.
Seto is a member of the Student Safety Workgroup, a collaboration between AAPD, the Department of Public Safety, the Division of Student Affairs and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center that promotes student safety. In a January interview, Seto praised the group and noted the need for a safer campus.
In an interview, Seto said he's delighted to be recommended for the job.
“It's an honor to be offered the position, and I'm thankful that it's going before Council consideration,” Seto said. “This is a great city and a great police and fire department.”
Seto said he hopes the time he spent as interim police chief will make the transition into the job easy.
“The last four months (have) been a lot of work and I've learned quite a bit, but it’s all been very rewarding,” Seto said. “So I'm also grateful to have that opportunity to make this transition hopefully a little easier.”
Seto said he wants to continue to have a strong relationship with DPS, the University and students.
“I look forward to continuing that relationship,” he said. “I attend many meetings with different groups such as the Inter Fraternal Council, the Greek life councils … different MSA working groups, so I look forward to continuing to meet with the students and the University community.”
Seto said communication between students and law enforcement officials will hopefully improve the etiquette and behavior of students on football Saturdays and allow for a better law enforcement relationship with tailgating students.
“Just by learning what both sides are up against and hearing suggestions from both sides and mutually working together so that we can enjoy the game day experience but also be cognisant of the concerns of the neighbors and the rest of the community,” Seto said.
In an e-mail to The Michigan Daily, Joe Piersante, interim executive director of DPS, issued a statement about Seto becoming the police chief.
“We think John Seto is an excellent choice as the next Ann Arbor Police Chief. He has been an instrumental proponent of collaboration between our two departments that has been very beneficial for both the on-campus and near-campus areas. John’s roots even began as a U-M housing security officer, so John knows the campus and broader community very well. We look forward to a continued law enforcement partnership that results in reduced crime and enhanced community safety,” Piersante wrote.
In an e-mail to the Daily, Jim Kosteva, the University’s community relations director, echoed others’ sentiments on Seto being a good fit for the job.
“Deputy Chief Seto is an outstanding officer and is a fine selection as the city’s new chief. He knows this community and our campus extremely well and already has long-standing relationships with University personnel in our Department of Public Safety and Office of Student Affairs,” Kosteva wrote.