Highly regarded officer honored


‘She was a good cop!” One of the first policewomen in Jackson County, honored as she was laid to rest.

Pictured above, right, Officer Judith Whiteman in her early days in law enforcement. Pictured above, left, Firefighters from Addison and Spring Arbor raise the flag above M-50 in her honor.

Photos, story by Matt Schepeler

Police and firefighters from across the region ascended on Brooklyn last week to honor Judy Whiteman.

Whiteman, 73, died Nov. 16.

“She was just so highly regarded,” said Chief Jay Niles. “She was a pioneer; she paved the way for all women police officers. How cool is that?”

Born on November 25, 1947, in Adrian, to Ralph and Jacqueline (Baker) Franke, Judith married Jerry Whiteman, on August 16, 1980.

Whiteman served as one of the first policewomen in Jackson County. She worked for multiple law enforcement agencies in the surrounding communities and retired from the Blackman Township Department of Public Safety after 25 years of service.

After retirement, Whiteman came to work for the Columbia Township Police department, following Chief David Elwell. Both left Blackman Township Public Department of Public Safety in 2004. “I hired her as a police officer, but everyone knew her as the secretary,” said Elwell. “She said ‘I’ll stay as long as you do.’” However, when Elwell left the department, Whiteman opted to stay to help with the transition.

“While Dave was chief, Judy and I worked together on a lot of projects, and I asked her to stay,” said Jay Niles, who was eventually promoted to the chief position. “She knows so much about so many things. I told Judy, ‘You are such a valuable asset, you are part of the success of the department.’

A flag was raised across M-50 Wednesday, November 24, in honor of retired Officer Judith Whiteman.

“I miss her horribly,” Niles continued. “The boys respected her, everybody in the community respected and liked her. She was such a quality person. Such a great person. She did so many things for this community that people just have no idea about. I don’t think you can find anyone who had anything bad to say about her. And, she was a good cop. She was no slouch. She took care of business,” said Chief Niles.

One passion for Whiteman was animals, and when strays were brought into the office, she took it upon herself to make sure that they were properly cared for until their owners were found, or they were placed where they could find new housing.

Whiteman’s funeral service was held at Eineder Funeral Homes – Brooklyn Chapel on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, with Pastor Jeff Sheeks officiating. During the service, a giant flag was hung across M-50, suspended by two ladder trucks, one from the Addison Fire Department and the other from the Summit Township Fire department.

Representatives from many police and fire agencies were on hand to honor Whiteman.

Niles said that the department feels different with her absence.

Elwell, who is now retired, said there is no doubt her absence will be felt for years to come.

“There is the old adage everybody is replaced,” said Elwell. “That is not really true.

“Positions can be filled, but some people are just irreplaceable.”



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