The Paw Paw Police Department

The Paw Paw Police Department is a great asset of the Village of Paw Paw. The department provides around-the-clock law enforcement services that keep village residents and businesses safe. As Paw Paw is the Van Buren County Seat, the department is a respected law enforcement agency in the county and enjoys positive relations with the County Sheriff, The Michigan State Police, and other law enforcement agencies. The department employs a staff of eight full-time officers and one part-time officer. One officer is assigned to a rotational detective position focusing on felony investigations.  In addition to the officers there is one full time and one part-time support staff.

History of the Police Department

In the early 70s, the Paw Paw Police Department was made up of a Chief and two officers. This group worked six days a week with one day off and for six hours of every day, no one was on duty. The next officer scheduled was on call for the hours not covered before his shift. When a call came in, the dispatcher would contact the officer at home so that he could respond. Throughout the years, officers were added until the current roster of nine was reached in 2002.

The department transitioned to 24-hour coverage in the early 80s after a string of breaking and entering incidents that took place while the officers were off duty. The department officers’ schedules rotated weekly between day, afternoon, and night shifts for many years thereafter. A ten-hour shift with officers changing shifts every eight weeks began in 1997.  Currently, officers work a 12-hour shift. In 2011, the Police Department, under the direction of Chief Eric Marshall, began a Community Policing approach to departmental operations.

The department was originally housed in a small room at Village Hall. In 1973 it moved into the then-new DPS building until their current building was built in 1974. While the current space has served the department well, it has grown to a point where additional space will be needed in the near future.

Business and Home Checks

Officers of the Paw Paw Police Department regularly conduct foot and bike patrols throughout the village. Officers have found this to be a great way to get to know the residents and business owners. Foot and bike patrols are done at all hours of the day and night. Officers will check businesses that have closed for the night, vacant properties, and businesses and staff that are working late.

Community Policing and Provided Services

The Paw Paw Police Department is continuously looking for ways to partner with the community and improve services.  The department takes part in many events throughout the year, including National Night Out, Shop with a Cop, and Heroes Day at Paw Paw Playhouse.

Some of the exciting things the department provides for the community are tours of the Police Department for groups, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Paw Paw Schools. Department members also participate in events such as Paw Paw Library Day, Neighborhood Watch, Honor Credit Union Youth Night, bike safety talks, and foot and bike patrols.  Officers also attend a range of other events throughout the year, including parades and Crop Walk.

Some services that the department provides to businesses, community groups, and organizations are business and home security evaluations, employee personal safety training, fraud and identity theft awareness presentations, and counterfeit bill awareness. If you have an interest in an officer coming to speak to your business or group, you may contact Sergeant Eric Rottman.

Mission Statement

Employees of the Paw Paw Police Department, working in conjunction with our community, are dedicated to improving the quality of life for our citizens and providing a safe and secure environment for all.

Core Values


We will possess firm principles that include steadfastly adhering to high moral character and professional standards.


We will dedicate ourselves to providing the community with a hardworking, caring, professional organization, which meets the needs of our citizens and our employees.


We will make a conscious effort to be aware of the suffering which occurs in our community with both our citizens and employees and, when practical, attempt to relieve it.


In our vision for the future we will strive to strengthen and expand partnerships between the police department, community, schools, and businesses.

We will enhance the department’s traditions of integrity, commitment, and compassion.

We will seek community and employee involvement in identifying crime and community problems and in addressing the needs of our citizens and employees.

We will seek community input on the effectiveness of our police service and ways to improve it.

We will strive to deliver an excellent police service that mirrors our core values.


Eric Rottman
Police Chief
Samuel Carlsen


The department is in the process of transitioning from Chevrolet Police Vehicles to Ford Explorer Police Interceptors. With this transition, all new patrol vehicles are being modernized with the latest in public safety equipment. For many years, the department patrol vehicles have been a traditional black and white color design. With the addition of the Ford Explorer Police Interceptors the department is switching to an all-black vehicle with white graphics. In addition to the new vehicles, officers are equipped with Glock .40 caliber handguns, Mobile Data Terminals, Cold Law Enforcement M-4 Rifles, mobile digital video cameras, Tasers, and radar and lasers for speed enforcement.