Protecting Monroe

Monroe police officer follows in father’s footsteps

Story by Danielle Portteus
Photos by Tom Hawley

Aaron Oetjens set out to be a police officer even though his dad said otherwise.

“He told me not to become a cop,” the younger officer said.

He went into law enforcement anyway.

The 32-year-old St. Mary Catholic Central grad grew up with law enforcement. His father, Robert Oetjens, worked for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. His mom, Kathy, is a retired Monroe Public Schools teacher.

After serving in the Army, Oetjens knew he wanted to follow his father into a career in law enforcement
“I like solving problems,” he explains. “I grew up with it.”

Before entering the military, Detective Oetjens attended Monroe County Community College. He then joined the Army, serving a year as a cavalry scout.

After serving in the Army, he attended Eastern Michigan University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration.

After a few years on the road, he went into the vice unit before being promoted to the detective bureau in April.

He said his style is a hands-on approach.

“When I get a case, I talk to the victim first and keep them involved throughout the process,” Oetjens said. “I think it is important to have a victim-centered approach.”

This summer, Oetjens completed training to join the Monroe County Special Response Team.

“I like it because it fits easily with my military background,” he said.

Monroe Police Chief Charles McCormick IV said Oetjens is “highly intelligent and motivated.”

“Detective Oetjens is a professional officer who possesses the firmness and compassion needed to address the challenges of public safety,” the chief said. “(He) is a trusted and valued leader among his peers. Detective Oetjens has the passion and commitment to continue this leadership through future challenges and opportunities that will face public safety and our community.”

Capt. J.D. Wall called Oetjens a “different level” guy.

“I was one of his training officers and I was impressed with him,” Wall said. “He is a straight-laced kid with combat experience who comes from a great family. He’s an all-around good guy.” Wall said Oetjens is a good fit for the detective’s bureau because has a “toughness” to solve cases.
“I can trust he is doing the right things,” Wall said.

But, policing is a team effort, too.

“Aaron is able to grow as an officer because he has a great team behind him,” Wall said.

Community policing also puts him in contact with people he knows.
“There have been many times that I have been able to help friends, family members or former classmates when they were the victim of a crime or needed assistance,” Oetjens said.

Though he could have taken his talents elsewhere, Oetjens said he wanted to stay in Monroe because of his family and the community.

“I feel that I have a strong bond with the people in Monroe and like the small town atmosphere where many of the people in the community know one another,” he said. “I also take pride in protecting the community that I grew up in.”