After 35 years with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, Chief Ron Archer is bidding farewell and retiring on Friday, Feb. 22. Lt. Lyle Murray will be promoted to chief.
“My advice to new officers is a couple things: Don’t let the badge go to your head and treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s an old saying, but it’s true,” Archer said.
Archer worked his way to the top from sergeant to lieutenant to chief, which he said was always his ultimate goal. As chief, however, Archer said he missed the investigation aspect of being a lieutenant.
“(As chief,) you’re not as much hands-on,” Archer said. “An investigation is kind of like a mystery novel. When guys would come up with a good investigation, I missed being out there, being part of it, working it.”
“Those kind of things are why you become an officer in the first place,” Archer said.
The most prominent investigation Archer worked on was the disappearance of Elizabeth Syperda from Mt. Pleasant in 2000. Archer said it feels good to have a conclusion to that as he goes into retirement, with Elizabeth’s then-husband Michael Syperda having been convicted with her murder in 2018.
“It started as a missing person case and ended up a homicide,” Archer said. “We worked a lot of hours on that over the years, following up on leads, and we’re glad we’re able to charge the person responsible.”
While the prosecution side of the Syperda case is closed, Elizabeth’s body still is missing. Archer said he would still like to see her remains returned to her family.
Archer, who enjoys watching shows about law enforcement investigations like 48 Hours, said he would always perk his ears up whenever they were investigating a missing person case.
“You can see some of the things they did to solve their case and it helps you come up with ideas. ‘Maybe we should try this,’” Archer said. “To me, that was helpful.”
Archer said that while a lot of the entertainment law enforcement shows are “way out there,” the documentaries and shows that follow cases that have actually happened are realistic.
Being chief is a “learn as you go” job, Archer said. It’s choosing good people for the department, making sure everything gets done, that officers have the resources they need to do their job and keeping up morale, Archer said.
“Law enforcement has changed a lot from when I started, but it’s a good profession,” Archer said. “You come into work, and you never know what you’re going to run into. I’ve always kind of liked that aspect of it.”
Police officers have to be careful not to get too cynical about people over time, Archer said. Law enforcement officers see a lot of bad and not as much good as they would like, but at the end of the day, Archer said it’s more good than bad.
While Archer loves being chief, he often misses the excitement of being lieutenant.
In retirement, Archer will miss being in the loop, from sitting in Mt. Pleasant City Council meetings to staying up to date on open investigations in the police department. But Archer said it’s time to “get some young blood” into the department.
Lt. Lyle Murray was named the next Mt. Pleasant Police Department chief in December 2018. Since then, he has been working with Archer to learn the ropes of being chief and developing some of his own ideas for the department.
Murray said he would like to get body cameras for officers in the police department. While they currently work with in-car cameras, body cameras are the next step in surveillance
“It’s important to protect the officers and the public and make sure every one is doing what they need to be doing,” Murray said about body cameras. “It can be used for evidence if we’re dealing with an offender.”
Murray would also like to invest in more training for officers to help them solve “white collar crimes.” Identity theft, scams and financial crimes are harder to track because the suspects are generally not from the same area as the victim, Murray said.
“Getting the tools to work those cases is pretty important and there’s not a huge training industry for that,” Murray said.
Murray said he has spoken with people who were victims of identity theft in other places, and what he learned was they don’t feel like they get a lot of local police involvement in their cases.
“We work really hard to get some type of conclusion,” Murray said.
Ryan Pilling is being promoted from criminal investigator to lieutenant effective Feb. 23.