Protect and serve
Platzer has dedicated his life to keeping Port Huron residents safe
After watching his father dedicate his life to a career in law enforcement, Lt. Joe Platzer knew serving his community was the path he also wanted to take. “My father was a police officer in Port Huron and I was able to see what he did for a living and I liked it and knew from a young age that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Platzer said.
He started out as a Police Explorer, a program where 14 to 18 year olds learn the ins and out of police work. Platzer then earned his criminal justice degree from SC4 and graduated in 1991. Upon earning his degree he enrolled in the police academy and began work at the Port Huron Police Department. He also continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Eastern Michigan University. He is currently working on a master’s degree in criminal justice public administration through University of Michigan-Flint.
Platzer said he chose SC4 because it was located in his community and he liked that the cadet program is offered in conjunction with the criminal justice program.
“You are considered a part-time employee but you also have to be enrolled at SC4 going into criminal justice,” he said. “We hire police cadets to work the desk, take walk-in complaints, capture tips, patrol the parks and waterways in the summer, and just be an ambassador for the department.
In his more than 25 years in law enforcement, Platzer has moved up the ranks at PHPD, starting as a cadet, and then as a plainclothes officer working with the Special Crimes Unit in gang and narcotic investigation.
He was promoted to detective and then road sergeant, and in 2010 was selected to start up and run the Major Crimes Unit, now the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, which is a plainclothes operation dealing with high profile crimes in Port Huron. In 2014 he was promoted to lieutenant and most recently administrative lieutenant. He’s also in charge of the Special Response team and has held positions as Police Explorers advisor, field training officer, range master and is an adjunct professor at SC4.
“I like being able to give back to the community and teach, which is something I want to pursue down the line when I retire,” he said. “I had a good background from my dad being a police officer and being in the Explorer Program, but SC4 enhanced my knowledge on a lot of different topics and gave me the basic fundamentals on what police work is about.”
Platzer’s advice for students: “You need college to advance in any type of employment that you choose. The more education you have and the better the portfolio you provide, the higher the position you will be able to obtain in your respective business or job. I’m just a big proponent of education.”