Mount Morris, MI – Flint Police Department (FPD) Captain Collin Birnie died in the line of duty Feb. 4 after an oncoming driver crashed into his patrol vehicle head-on.
The 53-year-old captain was traveling down Elms Road on his way home at the end of his shift when the collision occurred at approximately 6 p.m., the Detroit Free Press reported.
Witnesses said a juvenile driving a Chevrolet Traverse was in the oncoming lane passing vehicles and lost control, crashing head-on into Capt. Birnie’s department-issued Chevrolet Tahoe, according to MLive.
Capt. Birnie was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Information regarding the juvenile driver’s condition was not immediately available, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The FPD announced the 26-year department veteran’s death in a Facebook post later that night.
“With very heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that Flint PD Captain Collin Birnie died tonight as the result of a traffic crash while on duty,” the department said.
FPD Chief Terence Green said Capt. Birnie always made others smile with his own laughter, MLive reported.
“I can still hear his laugh,” Chief Green said. “You could hear that laugh throughout the entire building. This is going to be such a void in this police department.”
The chief said Capt. Birnie was dedicated to serving his community and that he loved the job.
“He never complained once about his job, even with all the negative aspects of law enforcement,” he told MLive. “I’ve never seen an administrator more dedicated than Capt. Birnie.”
He oversaw the FPD’s road patrol division and tactical response team at the time of his death.
Capt. Birnie became eligible for full retirement in August of last year, but he wasn’t ready to leave his career just yet, FPD Captain Leigh Golden told MLive.
“He had a couple of projects he was working on: one of them being getting new bomb squad members certified,” Capt. Golden said. “He did not want to leave that work for someone else to complete. He wanted to see it through.”
Prior to his law enforcement career, Capt. Birnie served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 until 1992, MLive reported.
Chief Green said Capt. Birnie was a beloved member of the FPD.
“We’re just trying to get through this right now,” he told MLive.
Fellow FPD officer and police union president Kevin Smith described the longtime captain as the agency’s “rock.”
“He knew everybody, and you could call him anytime to ask him any question, even on his personal phone,” Officer Smith said. “He was smart, intelligent; everybody looked up to him.”
Capt. Birnie leaves behind his wife, Tina, his two daughters, and his grandchildren, MLive reported.
“He would want us to stay strong, keep moving forward, and be that pillar for the community that he was,” Officer Smith told MLive. “Man, this is a huge loss for us.”
Honoring Flint, Michigan, Police Department Captain Collin Birnie, died February 4, 2022, when an oncoming vehicle passing others lost control and hit Captain Birnie’s Patrol car head-on. Captain Birnie was a #USMC veteran. Honor him so he is not forgotten. pic.twitter.com/24e60pfw5p
— Steve Wightman (@stevewightman1) February 6, 2022
🙏 “On behalf of the Detroit Police Department, I send my heartfelt and deepest condolences to the families and friends of Flint Police Captain, Collin Birnie, who was tragically killed in the line of duty. We grieve with you."
-Chief James E. White#OneDetroit @FlintPoliceDept pic.twitter.com/bUSMVdO8sI
— Detroit Police News (@detroitpolice) February 5, 2022
Please join us in welcoming two new officers to the Flint Police Department, Ofc. Riddell and Ofc. Maples (pictured here with Capt. Birnie and Capt. Taylor). pic.twitter.com/T2lAwPgViS
— Flint Police Dept. (@FlintPoliceDept) May 7, 2018
Our law enforcement community is hurting tonight. Flint Police Captain Collin Birnie passed away from injuries sustained in a head on collision. He was a wonderful guy and a great public servant. RIP pic.twitter.com/5R4LZN4wS5
— Prosecutor David Leyton (@dsleyton) February 5, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Flint Police Department Captain Collin Birnie, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.