Port Huron Police Chief Joe Platzer says St. Clair County Community College gave him the opportunity to follow in his late father’s footsteps and his family a great jump-start on their careers.
Platzer, 49, said his namesake worked for the Port Huron Police Department for 32 years, retiring as lieutenant.
“From as far back as I can remember, seeing him in uniform and knowing what police officers did, that was my career path,” he said. “Seeing what he did for a living, I knew all along what I was going to do.”
A 1988 Port Huron High School graduate, Platzer enrolled in St. Clair County Community College’s criminal justice program in 1988, earning his associate degree in 1990. He served as a cadet with the Port Huron Police Department in conjunction with the SC4 program for three years.
“SC4 was a local college,” Platzer said. “I knew what I wanted to do for a living. Being here and being a local community college, it allowed me to get my start here.”
Platzer said his schooling provided him with training he would use on the job.
“The instructors I had, I knew them from them being employed at other (police) agencies,” he said. “With what they taught and what they provided, I was able to take it and use it in my daily work here at the police department. I was able to put it to good use.”
Platzer earned a bachelor’s degree in public safety administration from Eastern Michigan University in 2001 and later a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from University of Michigan-Flint in 2018.
Over the years, Platzer has climbed through the ranks at the Port Huron Police Department, serving from road patrol to special crimes unit for street gangs and narcotics, detective sergeant to major crimes unit. He received promotions to lieutenant in 2014, administrative lieutenant in 2016, captain in 2017 and chief in 2018.
“I virtually have worked every position here except dispatch,” he said.
The city’s police chief also has been an adjunct professor at SC4 since 2005, teaching classes from criminal justice basics to contemporary law enforcement.
“I like to teach,” he said. “I like to give back.”
Platzer’s connection with SC4 continues to grow. He and his wife Nanette, who works at the Fort Gratiot Fire Department, have two of their three children enrolled in SC4’s Blue Water Middle College Academy (BWMCA). Nicholas, 17, and Alexandra, 15, are current BWMCA students, while their oldest, Jacob, 19, is employed as a Fort Gratiot Township firefighter and with Tri-Hospital EMS.
“I think the Blue Water Middle College Academy is outstanding,” he said. “The fact that you can obtain an associate degree for staying one more year past high school graduation is amazing. With the cost of education, anything that can be paid for is a benefit.”
Platzer added he is appreciative of the fact that SC4 provided him with a quality education close to home.
“Being from Port Huron and being a local community college, I didn’t have to go away from home,” he said. “It was a good start to my future education.”