Retired PCC Police Chief Peter Michael died on February 6, 2015. He was 61.
Chief Michael came to PCC as Director of Police and Safety Services in 2008 after retiring from the Glendale Police Department as a lieutenant. Services were held at the Burbank Elks Lodge.
Michael came during the planning and construction of the B Building, which houses the current Police and Safety Services Department, Community Business Center, and he was very active during the process. He implemented the PCCPD’s system for documentation of reports and was instrumental in the design of the current police department and development of the campus Emergency Operation Center located in the Campus Center, according to Chief Steven Matchan.
The E.O.C contains back-up generators and technology such as TVs, computers, and backpack gear for mobile response. This same E.O.C is often used during the Pasadena Rose Parade and outside entities come to look at it and for training. It has smart boards, tie-ins to cameras systems, a 3-D mapping of the campus, food, water, gas, light, flashlights, and other supplies in place to provide campus assistance for up to five days for nearly 5,000 people.
Adjunct history professor Robert Cody, who was head of Technology Services at the time he retired, worked closely with Michael in installing the technology in the E.O.C.
“That was considered to be state of the art and it is certainly ‘the best Emergency Operations Center in the State of California,’” continued Cody, directly quoting from the Chancellor’s office. “Chief Michael played a critical role in the development of the Community Business Center, [including] passport applications, Live Scan, etc.”
“He [also] thought of having cameras located in our parking structures,” said Chief Matchan. “And of course, in our campus main areas quad area, as a tool to help us solve crimes.”
Matchan, who has been with PCC for 11 years, had worked with him during his early years at PCC and prior to Michael’s retirement in 2011.
“He convinced the [PCC] administrative staff—since we serve so many students and staff—that we are our own city, an entity, during a crisis emergency incident,” said Matchan.
Michael retired from PCC in the middle of 2011, and the campus video surveillance systems were implemented that fall.
“It has helped us a lot…and acts as a deterrent,” said Matchan. “Vehicle thefts have declined in the parking structures.”
Rarely wearing a uniform in daily life on campus, Michael was casual and approachable.
“He understood that not only are our jobs stressful—police and safety—but everyone on campus,” Cody said. “Students are coming from all walks of life, different jobs, different neighborhoods, single parents, parents trying to get an education, so he understood the stresses. He tried to de-stress everyone as much as possible and make light of everything.”
Matchan said he was personally influenced by Michael.
“Eighteen hour days, working gangs, working narcotics, but every day you didn’t get an opportunity to work with the community much—where I came from. What he brought was a participatory part of leadership, but more so, he wanted us to engage with each other.”
To begin his career, Michael spent a year with the LAPD Science Academy before he was hired by the Glendale Police Department. After graduating the L.A. County Sheriff’s Academy, he worked in patrol, was in the Air Unit as a helicopter pilot, and also worked in hostage negotiations, according to Chief Matchan.
He became in charge of the Community Resource Department at Glendale P.D. and developed a Mobile Field Command Force as well, and both are still in place today. He was promoted to sergeant, and then later lieutenant, before retiring early at 55.
He came out of retirement to work again in downtown Los Angeles in the private sector before he decided to apply as Chief at PCC.
“That was his family, it wasn’t just work to him,” said Sherri Michael a community service officer at the Glendale Police Department and Michael’s widow. “He treated them with respect. He felt that if he gave respect, he’d get it back.”
And it was the same with his Glendale Police Department “family.”
“Everyone remembered that he’d never get mad, but to get his point across he’d be firm,” Sherri said on her first day back to the department since his death. “He was very giving and that was what he expected from the people that worked for him. He was an absolutely wonderful mentor. And that’s what he wanted to be, a mentor.”
“His proudest moment was being Chief of Police at Pasadena City College,” she added. “He was a wonderful person, a great heart. He loved his kids very much. Laura 30, Paul, 28, Andrew 23. They were the love of his life.”