Small-town roots prep officer to lead department as chief

 Among top challenges to be faced is renewal of operational police millage

By Christopher Behnan
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (Howell)

GREEN OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A desire to escape boredom in a small town set Jason Pless on a path that has brought him to the helm of Green Oak Township’s police force.

Pless replaced former Green Oak Police Chief Robert Brookins, who retired last month after running the department for more than 20 years, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

Pless grew up in Pinckney, graduating from Pinckney Community High School in 1988.

He enrolled in local Explorer programs, which mentor youth on police and fire procedures.

“Growing up in Pinckney in those days, you were looking for things to do. I can’t thank the guys enough who took the time to train us young teenagers back in the day,” Pless recalled.

The Pless family first arrived in the county in 1835 and was originally a local farming family.

Pless’ brother, Andy Pless, is chief of the Howell Area Fire Department.

Jason was a paid-on-call firefighter for the Howell and Putnam Township fire departments, and served alongside his brother on the Howell squad until 2004.

Jason Pless decided on a full-time career in law enforcement at age 19, however.

“When we were little, it was different. He wanted to be the cop and I wanted to be the fireman,” Jason Pless recalled.

He was hired as a reserve Pinckney Police Department officer in 1989, and became a full-time Pinckney officer after graduating from the police academy two years later.

He was hired as a Green Oak officer in 1993 and graduated from Michigan State University’s criminal justice program the following year.

Brookins promoted him to sergeant in 2005, and made him his deputy the following year.

Since that time, Jason Pless has been groomed to take over the department upon Brookins’ retirement.

Jason Pless hopes to continue his predecessor’s legacy, but realizes challenges are ahead. Chief among those challenges will be the proposed renewal of an operational police millage.

The Green Oak department continues to see increased retail crime from the continually growing business area in the community south of Brighton.

It will be challenging to replace officers who will retire soon, but the opportunity to work with new officers is exciting, Jason Pless said.

“I think that we’ve done an outstanding job. My officers are doing an outstanding job on a daily basis,” he said. “We’re doing more with less.”

He’s working on plans for additional outreach in local schools, and potentially doing more work with neighboring departments and sharing services.

The department is already making strides to work with other agencies, including an officer assigned to work with the county Sheriff’s Department accident investigation team.

“Obviously my position as the chief is the driving force behind the agency and the relationship of the community. We’re information-driven,” Jason Pless said. “Without the help of the citizens we’re not going to be very successful.”

He’s currently taking a course through Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command on leadership and administrative skills.

He lives in Marion Township with his wife, Jessica, and two sons, ages 8 and 10.

Jason Pless brings a younger viewpoint to the chief’s office, but also brings a solid track record of service to the job, Township Clerk Michael Sedlak said.

Sedlak, also a Green Oak fire captain, said he’s personally seen Jason Pless’ commitment to public service.

“Jason brings a different generational view to his position and relates well to what is going to be a much younger average age in our department in a few years. Jason’s commitment to our township is undeniable,” Sedlak said.


  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »