East Lansing, Mich. — Jeff Murphy, chief of the East Lansing Police Department, formally recognized the department’s two newest supervisors at the April 11 city council meeting.
Sgt. Tresha Neff was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on March 8, and Officer Tom Blank was promoted to sergeant on March 15 after serving as a field training officer for 18 years. Both officers have been working for the department and serving the community for more than 20 years.
Neff has been working with the East Lansing Police Department since June 1994. She has served as a field training officer, use-of-force instructor, hostage negotiator, civil disorder instructor, coordinator for the department’s sex offender registry unit, a detective and a motor traffic enforcement officer for the city.
Blank has been an officer with the department since May 1995 and has worked as a detective, crime scene investigator and field training officer.
Choosing which officers to promote isn’t always easy, Murphy said. The supervisors directly deal with the public and make the critical decisions the department makes daily, so a lot of trust is put in them.
“When myself and Capt. Sparkes were talking about who we were going to promote, the one thing we thought of is, most times our newest promoted supervisors, no matter what the rank, usually end up on our night shift because our shifts are bid according to seniority in rank,” he said. “So, we talked about whoever we were going to promote, we need to be able to sleep at night when they’re here taking care of the police department.”
Neff, who filed a lawsuit against the city of East Lansing last year claiming she was discriminated against and not promoted because of her gender, says she has been trying get promoted to lieutenant for quite some time. This includes two attempts, in 2013 and 2014, in which a less-qualified male officer was promoted before her, according to a Lansing State Journal report. The case has not yet been resolved.
Neff would not comment as to whether or not she thought the promotion had anything to do with the pending court case.
Regardless, Neff said she is ready to take on more responsibility with the department.
“They put a lot of trust in you when they promote you, so I’m happy about it,” she said.
Blank said he’s ready to take on more responsibility too.
Being a field training officer “has been enjoyable to me and I’m going to miss doing that, but I’m going to still be part of the program as a supervisor and I’m happy I can still be involved,” said Blank.