Controversial choice for Southgate police chief will not take job

- The man chosen to become the new Southgate police chief has decided not to take the job after community backlash.

The mayor formally announced the decision at city hall in Southgate that Brian Klonowski will not be the new chief.

Klonowski, a lieutenant for the Southgate Police Department, was on his way to taking the role of police chief when it was announced last month by the mayor.

Klonowski has a criminal record for a 2004 conviction when a beat a woman he met at a party after she turned down his advances. He served 18 months probation, but no jail time.

"It's astounding. I don't know what all factors were involved and everything but just for it to get to this point I think says something and it never should have gotten this far as far as I'm concerned," said Scott Pruitt, a friend of the victim.

The announcement last month caused backlash -- many residents in Southgate were upset that someone known for assaulting a woman could be the city's top cop.

About 1,200 people signed a petition calling for his resignation from the position.

FOX 2 has learned that Klonowski contacted the mayor last week and declined to take the promotion. The mayor made it public at Wednesday's council meeting.

"I have to tell you there was no motivation as to what made him decide not take the position other than we received communication that he no longer wanted to be considered for the promotion," said Southgate Mayor Joesph Kuspa.

No answered at Klonowski's home when FOX 2 visited, but here's what he had to say in August:

"I understand the unfortunate circumstances -- the embarrassing situation, and it was 12 years ago," Klonowski said. "I dealt with that on three levels -- criminally, civilly and departmentally -- and have attempted to put that behind me and attempted to increase my professionalism."

Puritt is friends with the 2004 victim, and says he witnessed the assault.

"Upon the incident he had the gall to basically state that he was leaving and he was a police officer and there was nothing nobody was going to do," he said.

But it appears that a lot has changed in the past few weeks.

Puritt said he's surprised he turned the job down.

"That really surprised me. I thought we were going to be in for a long fight here, but thankfully we won't have to do that and it couldn't have turned out any better for the police department, but for the city and the community and for everybody involved. I think it sends a good message to the community that the truth does come out and the right prevails."

City leaders say they followed the Michigan Legislature of Act 78 regarding promotions for police and firemen.

Klonowski came in first among other internal candidates in a written and oral exam, and the mayor and city council called him the best man for the job.

Moving forward, the mayor says he will now look at the runner up to Klonowski, but did not give an exact timeline on when a decision could be made.

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