INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV is celebrating Black History Month.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department North District Commander Michael Wolley II has made his own history.
"My parents were phenomenal at laying down the foundation of public service. Both my parents were in the military," said Wolley.
Some will assume Wolley was born to serve, but his journey is one that he said called out to him.
"I had made a conscious decision that I wanted a seat at the table. I wanted to be able to be a part of the decision-making process," said Wolley.
He says that decision didn't come easy.
"At 35, while others were getting on the agency, I was in a position to take command of one of the most diverse, largest, most populated districts in the city," said Wolley.
Accomplishments that he never imagined when he first joined IMPD in 2006 at 24 years old.
"I had people in my corner that were always saying, you know you need to come up with a 3-year plan, 7-year plan, 10-year plan and kind of push towards those goals. I was a 24-year-old kid out here serving my community. It was fun, it was a great responsibility, and one that I did not take lightly," said Wolley.
He spent nearly five years patrolling the streets of Indianapolis before he was pulled to serve as the youth violence reduction detective, community affairs officer, and IMPD recruiter.
"I didn't really think about being a supervisor initially. I was just looking to continue interacting with the community, taking runs with my fellow officers," said Wolley.
But that soon changed. In 2016, he was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the North District. A few years later, in 2018, he was promoted to Lieutenant, overseeing the Public Affairs Office.
"I failed, I failed miserably the first time I did the promotional process, but again I circled back to those principles that I was taught. You know, going through adversity, you've got a choice — you either lay down or you get back up," said Wolley.
Not long after his lieutenant promotion, he was appointed North District Commander. At 35-years-old, he was the youngest appointed commander in IMPD and IPD history.
"I remember there was an officer at the time with 29 years of experience. He looked back, and he said we start promoting rookies now, and I was like, oh boy, here we go," said Wolley.
His drive didn't stop at Commander. In 2021, he became the youngest merit captain on the department and still holds that title today.
Wolley is also the first Black officer to be ranked 1st on the Lieutenants and Captains promotional lists.
Wolley hopes his journey will encourage more officers in the department who look like him to keep striving for excellence and be the change they want to see.
“I prefer to take action. Part of my role and responsibility as a supervisor and someone that has reached this level of supervision is to encourage those under my command that I see talent, I see a purpose, I see the drive, I see ability," said Wolley. "When an e-mail comes up out about a position opening or promotional process, [I] take that e-mail, I copy it, I send it to the officer, and I say 'it's time.'"
WRTV's Amber Grigley asked Wolley, “So, what's next?"
"I want to make sure that my next move is my best move, and it allows me the opportunity to pour into my sons so that they can start to develop whatever goals or dream that they want as well," he said.
Commander Wolley's sons are five and ten years old now. If Commander Wolley's story moved you to consider a career in IMPD, visit their website to apply.