Former police chief makes a comeback in a new role

Former Hamtramck Police Chief Max Garbarino is coming back as a community liaison officer for the police department. He will be reporting to the city manager, not the current police chief. His return has stirred up controversy among some. File photo


By Charles Sercombe
Two employment contracts set off fireworks at last week’s city council meeting.
Councilmembers Ian Perrotta and Andrea Karpinski were alone in objecting to the contracts, which were submitted just before the council meeting started.
They both questioned why there was an apparent rush to get the contracts approved before they had time to examine the contracts.
Karpinski said she was “disgusted” by the process and accused others of conducting “backdoor meetings.”
First up was a contract to bring back former Police Chief Max Garbarino. City Manager Kathy Angerer created a new position for him to be Director of Community Safety and Services, with a salary of $85,000 a year.
The position is akin to being a liaison between the police department and the public.
He will serve as an “at will” employee with no expiration date in his contract. Garbarino will also have police powers, but will report to the city manager – not the police chief.
Perrotta reminded the council and public that Garbarino left several years ago “under a cloud” of controversy.
He agreed to leave as police chief following an investigation conducted by then-City Manager Katrina Powell.
The nature of the investigation was never revealed, and part of the separation agreement that Garbarino signed included a stipulation that neither he nor the city could talk about the reason for his leaving.
There was talk that before being fired, Garbarino had wiped clean his city-issued cell phone and possibly his laptop despite being told not to do so.
The agreement, however, can be undone if both the city and Garbarino agree to it.
In a WXYZ Channel 7 interview this week, Garbarino said his leaving had to do with “politics.” He also said that he and Powell “didn’t see eye-to-eye” on matters.
For the past few years, Garbarino had been working as an Eastpointe police officer. His start date in his new job is not yet known.
Councilmember Perrotta pointed out that Garbarino’s new position was not one that existed before, and questioned whether it is even needed.
He also lashed out at the city administration for not putting the two contracts in question on the agenda so the public could be notified ahead of the meeting.
The other contract is a modification of Angerer’s previous contract. She also works as an at will employee, but no longer has an expiration date on her contract.
She also has a new termination clause that will give her two-years’ worth of her salary if she is fired.
That will amount to $240,000, plus benefits, which would be covered for six months after her termination.
Her salary is $120,000 a year, plus $500 a month for her to maintain a vehicle, plus other perks as well.
While some in the community called the termination payment a golden parachute, it is not unheard of.
It was recently reported in the Detroit Free Press that Birmingham’s city manager, Joseph Valentine, will be paid $300,000 if he is fired.
Councilmember Fadel Al-Marsoumi told The Review that Angerer’s contract is worth it because she is doing a good job, and he wants to make sure to keep her here.
In both votes on the two contracts, Councilmembers Perrotta and Karpinski were in opposition.
Councilmembers Anam Miah, Abu Musa, Fadel Al-Marsoumi and Saad Almasmari, as well as Mayor Karen Majewski, voted in favor of the contracts.
Majewski normally doesn’t vote on most matters, per city charter, but does vote on employment contracts.
As for the Garbarino contract, Councilmember Karpinski questioned where the funding is coming from – especially in light of the city’s deficit spending this fiscal year.
Angerer said that Garbarino is being paid with funds from an unfilled position of deputy city manager.
Garbarino’s supporters on council noted that, while he was police chief, he made connections with the city’s immigrant community.
“He’s a very good friend of the community,” said Councilmember Musa. “If Max comes back, it will move the city forward.”
Dec. 6, 2019

14 Responses to Former police chief makes a comeback in a new role

  1. Resident

    December 6, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    Welcome back, Chief!!!!!Took a while but better late than never… Hope “politics” doesn’t get the upper hand again.


  2. Nasr Hussain

    December 7, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Rehiring Mr. Garbarino was the right decision and I wonder why Ian and Andrea voted against this wise resolution.
    Not only for his good connections will all parts of this community but also his effectiveness as a police chief backed up by data.

    Below is a bar graph of the crime rate in our beloved city of Hamtramck during his tenure as a police chief. Notice how the crime rate went down rapidly during that time and how it started creeping up after he was let go:

  3. Just WOW

    December 7, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I find it funny that Max is back. He resigned in less then 24 hours when the city open up an investigation in to him. All he wanted was his time off and pension he earned. He agreed he would resign immediately as long as the investigation stopped and a NDA signed. He didn’t want anyone to know why he was being investigated. He also agreed he would never apply or be hired by Hamtramck again. Doesn’t sound like a man that left because of politics. If that agreement was not valid and he is allowed to comeback then the NDA is invalid by law. Which means if the review does their job they can FOIA that agreement and contact Powell.

    85k plus benefits means that a city in a budget crunch just threw away 100k on a position not needed. Great waste of money.

    Approving both those contracts is a joke. Where is Kathy going to go? No city in this state would hire her to be a city manager. She took a city that was operating with a surplus into deficit sending in less then 2 years. This must be that great job Fadel is talking about.

    The shady and backroom deals are comical.

    It not the income tax killing this city it is the leadership.

  4. Nasr Hussain

    December 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Look at it this way:

    If what he did was really a major breach of the law that should’ve been prosecuted, then the city would’ve done so.

    But the city’s choosing to let him go after signing an NDA indicates that this was all about politics and whatever infraction he did was a minor issue used solely to get rid of him.

    There is always an tolerance spectrum in the law where you have to let go, otherwise thousands of people will be arrested everyday for going a few miles over the speed limit.

    & taking into consideration what Max has done to this community, whether it’s his outreach efforts and his effective tactics in reducing crime rates in Hamtramck, a minor mistake should be forgiven.

  5. P.D. Insider

    December 7, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    What really happened to Max in February 2015?

    At 10:00 a.m. Katrina Powell, Margaret Scanio, Anne Moise, and John Travis Mihelich paid a surprise visit to Max’s office. Powell was the spokesperson and requested Max to turn in his city-issued cellular phone and other property of the city. Max, in a great deal of consternation, initially resisted but was escorted out of City Hall as word began to spread about what had happened. Max was advised he was being placed on administrative leave.

    The city’s IT provider, Barry Ellentuck, was called in to secure Max’s city-issued computer and to inspect and scan it to, among other things, review his e-mail traffic.

    Powell met with a then-sitting councilperson (who is no longer on City Council) and briefed him on details what had occurred with Max.

    The fact that Katrina Powell wanted Max out due to politics is hogwash. Powell did not come into office until mid-December of 2014 and Max was placed on leave about 40 days earlier. The investigation of Max had been ongoing and was aware to Cathy Square and the city attorney months earlier.

    So is bringing back Max advisable?

    Max was well-liked by law enforcement officers in Hamtramck – however there were some issues that did not endear him to some on the force. One was his allocation of overtime hours to certain officers was seen by some as playing favorites – some officer received plenty of overtime while others did not receive as much. Secondly, he earned the nickname “Hollywood Max” since unlike previous chiefs like Kalinowski, Doyle or Sitek, he seemed to relish the limelight and crave media and community attention.

    Some have pointed out that the City of Hamtramck had paid for Max to attend University of Detroit-Mercy Law School and that this represents a $120,000.00 investment that the city needs to recoup via his expertise in his new position.

    Right now, officers are pleased with Chief Moise, who has been an advocate of the staff she commands, but feel Max can be a plus for the force and the community at large.

  6. Dennis Nowak

    December 7, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    @P.D. Insider:

    I think you may have slightly misspoke the timeline of events.

    Emergency Manager Cathy Square’s last day in that capacity was Thursday December 18, 2014 and Katrina Powell assumed office as city manager on Friday, December 19, 2014 and the Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB) was impaneled simultaneously with Ms. Square’s departure as emergency manager, who proceeded to become chairperson of the RTAB – so your post is substantially correct on that count.

    Maxwell Garbarino was, however, placed on administrative leave on Friday, March 6th, 2015 – so a total of 77 days elapsed between the commencement of Katrina Powell’s term as city manager and the placing of Mr. Garbarino on such administrative leave.

    Both Mr. Garbarino and the City of Hamtramck owe the public an explanation why he was placed on administrative leave and submitted his resignation one week later.

  7. Dennis Nowak

    December 7, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Also, I want to clarify that I believe P.D. Insider was correct when he/she sets forth that the initiation of the investigation of Max Garbarino preceded the hiring of Katrina Powell.

    It should also be pointed out that there was a wholesale examination of computers at City Hall – not just the computer that the city assigned to then-Chief Garbarino.

    Of the city personnel other than Max that P.D. Insider alludes to, all except Anne Moise no longer work for the city. Ms. Scanio, the then-personnel director of the city, went on to work at Wayne State University Law School, Mihelick stopped providing legal services for the city and later left the Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton law firm he was affiliated with. Powell went on to work as a consultant at Munetrix in Troy and now lives in Virginia.

  8. Poor Hamtramckian

    December 7, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    “community liaison officer for the police department” Sounds like a made up job. Why exactly do we need a liaison to the police department?

    Also Angerer is making 120k a year + perks! Wow, I would have never thought such exuberant salaries existed in this city. Maybe it is time for me to enter politics!

  9. Dennis Nowak

    December 8, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    @Poor Hamtrackian:

    You are so correct – does a city of 22,000 residents need a “community liaison officer” at a salary of $85,000 per annum?

    Does Garbarino live in Hamtramck? Does he speak Arabic or Bengali?

    How much was he paid as an Eastpointe patrolman?

    Someone needs to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to discover why he was escorted out of City Hall on March 6, 2015 under an administrative leave and to obtain a copy of the severance agreement that his lawyer negotiated with the City Attorney.

    At the last City Council meeting it appears that Garbarino’s hiring was a “done deal” with all essential terms already negotiated without being placed on the regular City Council agenda published on Friday but rather added at the City Council meeting as a “amended” agenda item – thus foreclosing full opportunity for public input and commentary.

    WXYZ-TV questioned Katrina Powell in Virginia about the rehiring of Garbarino and she had no comment. Garbarino claimed in an interview with an WXYZ-TV reporter that his 2015 administrative leave was “political” and that the City of Hamtramck had paid him six months of pay under a severance package he received.

    The public should be screaming and pounding the table about Garbarino’s rehiring.

  10. Nasr Hussain

    December 10, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t know why our council votes on resolution before doing a simple google search on the companies they vote for.

  11. Roadman

    December 11, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    @Nsar Hussein:

    More past controversy about the Municpal Parking Services, Inc. that the City Council approved last night:

    Vancouver has been an epicenter regarding citizen dissatisfaction with this company.

  12. Resident

    December 11, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Poor town. Deficient on Critical Thinking. Be it the council or school board.


  13. Nasr Hussain

    December 12, 2019 at 11:52 am

    We still have time, the city should limit the agreement to one year,instead of five, to see how this pans out.
    If this company is confident of their customers’ satisfaction then they should have no problem doing so.

  14. snitch

    September 28, 2020 at 10:04 am


    garbarino also worked for the wayne county sheriffs department in 2016, joining the jailers training in february of 2016. he went straight to being on the road, instead of in the jails, because of his connections. the corrupt sheriff napoleon, even gave him an endearing hug after graduation. why is this being left out ? if he spent time in eastpointe after resigning … then he must’ve been working two jobs. or at least being paid from two different jobs.

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