When County Executive L. Brooks Patterson offered Royal Oak’s former top cop the “opportunity of a lifetime” in 2009, Ted Quisenberry said it was hard to walk away from the town and department he led for more than eight years.
“I have extremely fond memories and thoughts of Royal Oak,” said Quisenberry, “It’s an amazing place. You couldn’t find a better town to be the police chief of.”
The job Patterson proposed was the top administrative position with Oakland County’s Homeland Security Division. The former chief said knew he should take take advantage of the offer.
“I still have a soft spot for Royal Oak. The businesses, the residents, the community, the bars and restaurants—I loved them all,” Quisenberry said. “There are 50 communities out there that would give their eye teeth to be Royal Oak."
He added the police department is in good hands these days under the leadership of Corrigan O’Donohue. "He's a great chief,” Quisenberry said.
Whether it’s managing 244 outdoor sirens or providing teachers with active shooter training, Quisenberry’s job these days is to make sure a response and recovery plan is in place to handle emergency or disaster situations in Oakland County.
“I’m pleased with my new job. I feel I am accomplishing something, and that there is still more to accomplish,” Quisenberry said. “After 39 years in law enforcement, I am still enjoying it.”
The Homeland Security Division provides aide through mitigation, emergency preparedness, emergency response and recovery for natural and man-made hazards.
After the Aurora movie theater incident and the Newtown school shooting in 2012, Quisenberry said he received many calls. “Everyone wants training now,” he said.
Quisenberry believes Sandy Hook teachers saved lives.
“They did the right things. They protected the students. They didn’t just run for their lives.”
Training for mental preparedness
In February, Quisenberry and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard will provide teachers and school staff across the county with expert training on how to react in an active school shooter situation.
“We do drills to teach people how to survive a situation, not how to prevent it,” he said.
The Royal Oak School District plans to send staff members from each building to these trainings. Principals have identified the key people in their buildings that will be attending, according to Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin.
“What we teach at active shooting training is not a secret. The message is not hide the kids in the back of the room,” Quisenberry said.
The idea is to be mentally prepared, he said. Know where exits are. Know what areas are safer. Know what is in your classroom that can help you. Know how to protect yourself and your students.
“It’s different for every situation. A kindergarten teacher needs a different plan than a college professor. Every plan needs to be individualized.”
Additionally, the training will give teachers and staff an idea of what to expect in an active shooter situation.
“It’s important to know that when the first people arrive they are not going to stop to help people bleeding. Their job is to eliminate the threat, not to provide aide to people that are down. That help comes behind.”
Quisnberry believes there’s a benefit to the training beyond the classroom, too.
“Every person that gets the training can pass along what they learned at church or in a movie theater if necessary.”