In 1954, the Township of Novi, Michigan decided to establish their own police department. While the Oakland County Sheriff had been patrolling the small farming community of approximately 5000 people, the Board of Trustees at that time had a vision for the future. Lee BeGole, a member of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and a World War II U.S. Army Veteran, was hired as Chief of Police. BeGole organized the fledgling organization, serving alone initially, and adding three or four officers later on. He was a dedicated law enforcement officer who served the City for 32 years.
The Novi Police Department was originally housed in Novi Township Hall, a yellow, two story, cinderblock building at 25850 Novi Road, south of Grand River. At first, only the rear corner of the ground floor was allocated for police service. The entire Township and early City Government, including the volunteer fire department, occupied the remainder of the space. During the 1970’s, the police operations grew, until the Department occupied the entire building, displacing City Hall to a frame building situated east on Sixth Gate. Novi Police Headquarters remained at this location, until moving to the present location in April, 1980. The original station continued to function in a variety of ways for another eighteen years. It was a firefighter training facility, temporary meeting place for the Novi VFW and American Legion, and even the Novi Jaycees "Haunted House" at Halloween. It was finally demolished in 1997 to make way for new development.
During its early years, the Novi Police Department was "operating on a shoestring". With one or two police cars and no police radios, the operation of the Novi Police Department was very basic. The few full-time officers were supplemented by reserves and part time officers at busier times. For many years, Chief BeGole bore the brunt of the patrol duties by himself, and in fact, he worked as both a police officer and a firefighter at first. The fire department was completely volunteer, so when a fire call came in, BeGole would drive the fire truck to the scene, so the volunteer firefighters could go directly there. This was in addition to his law enforcement duties.
Police equipment was very basic, too. Officers furnished their own firearms and paid for their uniforms. The patrol cars did not have overhead emergency lights, but rather were equipped with red or blue spotlights and a "coaster siren" under the hood. Eventually, a single emergency light, red on one side and blue on the other, was mounted in the center of the car roof. The specific number of cars in the original fleet is not known, but stories from retired officers spoke of leaving a 1968 Rambler running. One officer would drive it into the station driveway at the end of his shift, so that the next shift could go on duty and immediately drive out on patrol.
Since there was no radio communication, the citizens in need of police service would telephone, or would travel to the station to find "Lee", as everyone called him in those days. The second floor of Novi Township Hall was a living quarters. BeGole lived there for a time, and later a married couple took the position for low rent in exchange for answering the emergency line. If the fire department was needed, the fire siren on the roof would be sounded. If someone required police service, another switch on the wall served to activate a light mounted on a pole above "The Four Corners", the local name for the intersection of Grand River and Novi Road. The officer on patrol would see it and go to the police station to pick up the call.
In 1969, the incorporation of Novi as a city signaled the need for a full service, full time police force. In the early 1970’s the Novi Police Department began to grow. A few more full-time officers joined with Chief BeGole, but reserve officers continued to be an integral part of the organization. As the City developed, the need for Police Reserves diminished and they finally disbanded and full time officers staffed all operations in preparation for the boom period that was to be the 1970’s.
The Novi Police Department has occupied its present location at 45125 W. Ten Mile Rd. since April, 1980. The new building provided the space needed for the Department to match the expected growth of the City. It was designed to see the Department move into the 21st century, which it has done admirably. It has also seen a changing of the guard. In 1991, with Chief BeGole's retirement, Douglas F. Shaeffer became the second Chief of Police in Novi’s history. Under Chief Shaeffer’s administration, the Department added a new group of young Police Officers, schooled in the philosophy of community policing and in the use of new technologies now available to law enforcement. The officers of the Novi Police Department are required to have earned a four-year college degree before prior to being hired. As the Department grew and met the needs of a growing community, the officers were called upon to develop expertise in technical areas of law enforcement, never before attempted by the Novi Police. There were no well-established specialty units, such as evidence technicians or special response teams. This type of dynamic environment requires adaptable, intelligent individuals to be successful in it. The Novi Police Department intends to continue to provide the community with the highest caliber police officers, equipped and trained for the Twenty-first Century.
The tools used by the Novi Police have been modernized as well. The 1968 Rambler with the single red/blue roof light and coaster siren has been replaced by a large fleet of the latest police package Ford Crown Victoria’s, equipped with multifunction electronic emergency lights and siren. The old faithful police revolvers have been replaced by the newest in semiautomatic Glock pistols.
A completely new information system, with laptop computers in each patrol unit, and a new in-house data system at the station has taken over most of the hand-written reports and forms in the course of business. Automated fingerprints and photos have been installed for prisoner booking. Investigators have access to the entire data bank, and no longer have to comb files by hand. Instead they can associate names, locations, and incidents to assist in solving cases.
In order to accommodate these new forms of technology, an architectural revision at the Novi Police Department was completed in 2002. Construction provided the Novi Police Department with new training facilities and redesigned space for its operations.
On September 28, 2005, David E. Molloy was promoted to Novi Police Chief following the sudden passing of Chief Shaeffer in August, 2005. Chief Molloy is only the third police chief to serve the Novi community.
Chief Molloy has distinguished himself as a leader since joining the Novi Police Department in 1989. In 1995, he was promoted to rank of Detective and, in 1997 to the rank of Sergeant. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant in 2003 and was promoted to Deputy Chief in February, 2005.