Northville adds 13th officer to its ranks
Posted on 05/18/2018
Sgt. Ken DeLano and Police Officer Melissa Vernon display a narcan drug kit.Northville Police Department now at full strength 

Melissa Vernon didn’t have to wrestle with her decision to leave the big-city police department of Detroit to join the ranks of the Northville Police Dept., where the pace is slower and more about assisting people in need – such as a car accident or life-saving event. Her prowess as a former student-athlete wrestler makes her ready and equipped to handle whatever comes her way.

She was sworn into office on April 26 by Police Chief Michael Carlson, who has brought the department to full strength with her hiring as the 13th officer.

Being a police officer is a dream come true for Vernon, 26, a Michigan native who aspired to serve others through law enforcement since elementary school when officers came to her Oakland County school to talk about the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). “I’ve always viewed officers as heroes,” she said, “and wanted to be one too.”

Being physically and mentally strong, she was attracted to wrestling as a sport. She was on wrestling teams from middle school, earning national recognition by the USGWA (U.S. Girls’ Wrestling Assoc.) through college, as an NCAA scholar-athlete at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.

After graduating with a B.A. in criminal justice, she went to China with a friend for one year to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to elementary school kids. She learned a bit of the Chinese language – its many dialects make it tough to master – but learned a lot about living in Asia and interacting with people who don’t speak English. While there, she traveled to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

After one year abroad, she enrolled in the Detroit Police Academy and worked two years for the Detroit Police Dept. before coming to Northville.

“Living in a foreign county helped me as a police officer because I put myself in a different situation and didn’t know what to expect,” Vernon said. “As an officer, I keep an open mind and am ready for whatever challenge may come.

“My experience and training (in Detroit) showed me how to handle a wide variety of different crimes. I had a lot of training in tactics – mental health first-aid, verbal de-escalation and interacting with diversity.

“Every day is different as a police officer,” she added. “I am a good communicator and have compassion for people. I’m helping people at some of the worst times of their lives.”

She is currently being trained by Sgt. Ken DeLano and calls him “a great FTO (field training officer).”

New to Northville, she is charmed by its culture. “The community is unbelievable – it’s so welcoming and friendly. I’m excited to be here and want to be actively involved in the community as much as I can be.”

When she’s not working, she likes to hang out with her Jack Russell named Copper. Her father teasingly calls her Copper and her male dog, “Little Copper.”