Tecumseh police receive criticism for arresting couple for overdue library books


Tecumseh Police Department (TPD) chief Troy Stern asked for the support of city council during public comment at the April 18 meeting after the department faced criticism for serving a warrant regarding unreturned library books. Stern and his department have received criticism locally and nationally for carrying out court orders to arrest locals Cathy and Melvin Duren after they did not return two books checked out at the Tecumseh District Library (TDL). Lenawee’s Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) investigated the case, and attempted to contact the Durens unsuccessfully. They requested a warrant from a judge, who gave the court order to the TPD.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will not respond to criticism of the department, but in this particular case I feel it is important for council to understand exactly what occurred,” Stern said.

Stern stated that the police department arrived at the Durens home on April 8 to advise them there was a warrant out for their arrest and to turn themselves in. The Durens paid a $100 bond for each warrant at the TPD before being scheduled with an April court date.

“These individuals were not taken to Lenawee County Jail. They were not put in handcuffs. They chose not to take care of those warrants until they were forced to,” Stern said. “The involvement of the police department in this case was very minimal.”

Lenawee County’s ECU was developed in April 2014 to give businesses an option in recovering economic losses. They investigate business crimes. They do not partake in investigations relating to violent or substance abuse related crimes.

Stern said that when a court order is given to the department his officers have no right to refuse to serve the warrant. “That order says you shall deliver that person to the judge, period,” Stern said. “If we did not serve that warrant, it would cause us to break the law, and I will not put this department in jeopardy by refusing a court order.”

According to Stern, there was a 45 minute press conference on the case with the Lenawee County Prosecutor’s Office last week, with none of the details mentioned by anyone but the local news agencies. “Not one word of that conference was spoken on the national news. There has been irresponsible reporting, not by our own local reporters, but by the national media. This story was absolutely sensationalized,” Stern said.

Councilman Gary Naugle agreed with Stern’s observations. “The local news, including The Herald and The Daily Telegram, did a wonderful job of reporting this story,” Naugle said.

Mayor Jack Baker said that the council will back the police department throughout continuing future criticism on the case. “We are certainly aware of the criticism, unfair as it is, and you totally have our support,” Baker said.


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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