City of Southfield appoints new Police and Fire Chiefs


The Southfield City Council unanimously approved the appointments of Eric Hawkins as the new Police Chief and Keith Rowley as the new Fire Chief at the October 15 City Council Meeting.

“Together, these new chiefs represent 55 years of combined experience in protecting and serving the public in the City of Southfield,” commented Mayor Brenda Lawrence. “They will make a great team and will carry on the high standards of the city of Southfield and the Southfield Police and Fire Departments.”

“These outstanding appointments reflect the City’s commitment to the safety and security of Southfield residents, businesses and all those who enter the City on any given day,” added Council President Joan Seymour.

Chief Eric Hawkins joined the Southfield Police Department in 1990, starting as a Police Cadet and appointed as a sworn Police Officer in 1991. Since then, Chief Hawkins has continued to rise through the ranks of the department – serving in the role of Acting Chief since May of 2011. Throughout his career, Chief Hawkins has displayed exceptional qualities while handling increasing levels of responsibility.  His assignments have included: oversight of the department’s tactical unit; command of the department’s downtown sub-station, which involved coordination of all the police department’s community-related programs, including crime prevention, D.A.R.E., traffic, and school officers; and assignment as Patrol Division Coordinator, where he oversaw the research, introduction, and implementation of private security lock-up operations which saved the City of Southfield over $400,000 annually. Most recently Chief Hawkins, a longtime Southfield resident, implemented initiatives designed to enhance police-community relations, including citizen and youth police academies. 

Chief Hawkins earned a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and an Associate’s in Business Administration from Oakland Community College.  He is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, Eastern Michigan University’s School of Police Staff and Command, the FBI Command Institute for Police Executives, and Central Michigan University’s Law Enforcement and School Liaison Program Institute.  

“These appointments will serve the public well for years to come,” stated Council President Pro Tem Sidney Lantz. “The former police and fire chiefs both retired after long and distinguished careers with the City.”

With fourteen months as Acting Fire Chief and over 33 years of experience in the fire service—the last 21 of which were in progressively-responsible supervisory positions—Chief Rowley is extremely familiar with the functions and requirements of the Fire Chief’s position. He has organized and managed numerous major programs and projects within the department, such as expanding the Technical Rescue program and assisting in set up of the Urban Search and Rescue Team. Under his leadership, fire department staff teamed with City Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to reconfigure the SAFER grant to better meet the needs of the City of Southfield. As a result, the City and the Fire Department are now better positioned to maintain the high standards of commitment and care for the community. Chief Rowley, in conjunction with other department staff, also developed and implemented many new state-of-the-art training and firefighting techniques such as the use of Thermal Imaging technology, school bus emergency response, high angle rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and vehicle extrication.

Born and raised in the City of Southfield, Chief Rowley displays a high degree of pride and dedication to the community. Following completion of his undergraduate degree in early 2013, he will pursue a Master’s Degree in Staff & Command/Emergency Management at Eastern Michigan University.