Second Harper Woods police officer faces drug charge

It is alleged that Lynch stole various items from the Harper Woods Police Department property room between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10.

August 11, 2017

HARPER WOODS, Mich. - A Harper Woods police officer has been charged with using a controlled substance, Judge Daniel Palmer announced.

Officer John Biernat was arraigned Friday on a misdemeanor charge of controlled substance use -- narcotic, cocaine or ecstasy.

Biernat is being held on $7,500 bail, and he's not allowed to drink alcohol. He will be drug tested within the next 24 hours and face random tests twice a week. He is not allowed to possess any firearms or dangerous weapons away from his home.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23. If convicted, Biernat could face up to a year in jail.

A former Harper Woods police officer was arraigned Wednesday on several felony charges.

Michael Richard Lynch, 37, was charged with misconduct in office, possession of heroin, and six counts of larceny in a building.

He pleaded not guilty.

It is alleged that Lynch stole various items from the Harper Woods Police Department property room between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10.

Lynch was given a $50,000 personal bond and will be drug tested twice a week.

A probable-cause conference is scheduled for Sept. 27, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for Oct. 10.

Police chief releases statement

Harper Woods police Chief Jim Burke released the following statement about the string of incidents:

"This is another investigation that was initiated by members of the Harper Woods Police Department. Once an internal investigation was begun, it was determined that the officer may be responsible for a criminal violation of the law. I contacted the Michigan State Police and turned the investigation over to them. The Michigan State Police presented their findings to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office, who issued the charge against Officer Biernat.

"The top priority of this department is the safety of our community, and maintaining the excellent relationships we have built and the trust you have placed in us. I want to thank everyone who has reached out to us telling us that we still have that trust in spite of recent events. Your confidence in us is essential to continue the significant reductions in crime we are experiencing, and the demonstrated respect we have for each other. The National Night Out and Unity in the Community Walk last week was attended by over 500 people. We take great pride in our privilege to serve you, and we hope to keep building the relationship we have with our residents every day.

"I would also like to thank the media for the fair treatment we r eceived Wednesday, despite the negative circumstances that made it necessary for their coverage of our community. While a police officer charged with a crime is never a positive event, I was given ample time to explain that the activities in question were uncovered by our officers, and we do not tolerate any violations of the law. Most importantly, the focus on the excellent relationship that exists between our police department and our residents was emphasized, and how critical it is to our mission."

Biernat has been suspended from the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety without pay.

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