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Tribute To Ralph Soffredine

Rep. Bart Stupak

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay special tribute to an individual, who in addition to a long and distinguished career in law enforcement and teaching, has dedicated many thousands of hours to community service in northern Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor Ralph Soffredine of Traverse City, Michigan.

Ralph Soffredine has dedicated his life to education, law enforcement, community service and teaching. His perseverence and accomplishments have been an inspiration to every one who has met Ralph.

Born in Detroit, Michigan on January 11, 1937, he graduated from Sandusky High School, in Sandusky, Michigan in 1959. Nearly thirty six years ago he married Pam on March 21, 1967 and the couple raised six children: Maureen, Pete, Patrick, Annie, Joseph, and Paula. Ralph and Pam also have nine grandchildren.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force from September 1954 until receiving an honorable discharge as an Airman First Class in March 1958, he continued his academic studies and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in science from Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, in June of 1966, While at Central he had a distinguished athletic career as a football player and was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame in October 2001.

A continuing quest for education led Ralph to earn a Masters of Arts degree in community administration from Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1970. In addition to his academic work towards two degrees, Ralph is a 1985 graduate of the ``Police Staff and Command School'' at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois and a 1991 graduate of the FBI National Academy, in Quantico, Virginia.

Ralph began his criminal justice career in 1966 as a police officer in the Flint Police Department. He then moved to the Grand Blanc Township Police Department, where he attained the rank of captain. The Ishpeming Police Department recognized his talents and named Ralph chief in June of 1976. He later served as chief of the Menominee Police Department. He then moved downstate and took the position of director of law enforcement with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department.

Ralph left the Grand Traverse County Sheriffs Department to become chief of the Traverse City Police Department in 1981. Ten years later, Traverse City added the duties of fire chief to Ralph's responsibilities.

According to Ralph one of his major accomplishments as police chief was bringing community policing to Traverse City. I had the pleasure of working with Ralph in introducing the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to the Traverse City area.

Having an advanced degree, Ralph has taught criminal justice courses at many institutions of higher learning in the United States and abroad. In May of 1998 he spent five weeks in the Ukraine, working under the auspices of the Ukraine Militia, as an adjunct professor teaching and facilitating law enforcement classes to visiting U.S. students from the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. Closer to home, Ralph has taught criminal justice courses at many colleges and universities including: Northern Michigan University; Northwestern Michigan College; Northwestern University; Michigan State University; and his alma maters, Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University.

Showing his dedication to law enforcement beyond his administrative positions, Ralph has been involved in many related issues such as county jail program development, police school liaison programs, drug enforcement, crime prevention, police/fire training, internal investigation, chief contract negotiation, grievance and discipline, unification and consolidation of police departments, central dispatch, and records. Having a wide range of life experiences beyond law enforcement, Ralph has advised local officials on grants, personnel, management reorganization, community organization, and city, township and county budgeting.

Ralph's community service goes beyond his law enforcement and teaching duties. He currently serves as chairman of the Grand Traverse County Family Independence Agency, the Camp Grayling Regional Training Facility, and The Pavilion's board. Showing his admirable community service, he serves on many other committees and boards including: the Police School Liaison Committee, Northflight Board of Directors, Munson Board of Directors, Women Resource Center Board of Directors, the Traverse City Planning Commission, and the Traverse City Area Public School Board of Education.

He has served as president of Grand Traverse Families in Action and as a member of the Michigan Justice Training Commission.

Mr. Speaker, Ralph Soffredine's wide ranging law enforcement, teaching and community service activities are admirable and amazing. Ralph and Pam Soffredine have been great assets to their chosen careers, their fellow workers, and their community. I am proud to call Ralph and Pam Soffredine, friends of mine. Mr. Speaker, Ralph's last day as Chief of the Traverse City Police Department is January 24, 2003 and on January 25, 2003 there will be a retirement dinner and program for him at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City, Michigan.

Retirement will not slow Ralph at all. He will continue teaching criminal justice courses and training for power lifting competitions, an appropriate hobby for an individual who has shouldered so many duties throughout his life.

Mr. Speaker, I ask you and my House colleagues to join me in saluting Ralph Soffredine, a great person who has spent his life in service to others.