By David Fleet
In 2014 Deputy Eric Overall arrived at Brandon High School as a liaison officer.
“I want the kids to feel safe, comfortable, and that I’m a person they can confide in if they have problems,” Overall told The Citizen newspaper his first day on the job. “A lot of times kids feel alone and it’s weird to think a cop can be that person they confide in, but if you are feeling bullied or harassed, I have an open door policy and that is what I am here for.”
Mission accomplished deputy.
Oakland County Deputy Eric Overall, 50, a 22-year veteran who served six years as a liaison officer at Walled Lake Schools and two years in Brandon was killed early Thanksgiving morning by a suspect eluding police on M-15. Overall, who was assigned to the Brandon Township Substation, was deploying stop sticks on M-15 near Seymour Lake Road, when he was allegedly hit by a 22-year-old Macomb County man. The man is jailed and was charged with first degree murder on Nov. 25.
Eric is survived by wife Sonja; son Ken and the late Cameron; grandson of Lois Overall and the late Kenneth; son of Chris (Heidi) Overall and Denise (Rick) Houston; brother of Randy (Karla) Overall, Darryl (Sandy) Overall, Kevin (Debbie) Overall, Brett (Jody) Overall, Beth (Jeff) Fahr, Susan Overall and Matthew Overall. On Tuesday law enforcement from throughout Michigan and nationwide, gathered with hundreds of Oakland County deputies at Mt. Zion Church in Clarkston to recall the life of Overall.
“It’s a huge loss to us,” said Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. “He was a great deputy and a great person in the sheriff’s office and out of the office and in the schools as a liaison officer. His death is a huge blow to his family and friends.”
By Friday morning, just hours after Overall’s death, hundreds of blue ribbons and wreaths adorned the Village of Ortonville. Late Saturday afternoon, family members, Brandon Township First Responders along with Oakland Sheriff Deputies placed a wreath near M-15 and Seymour Lake Road. On Sunday evening several hundred community members gathered in downtown Ortonville in front of the Brandon Township Substation for a candlelight vigil.
“Officer Eric Overall swore an oath to serve and to protect,” said Wayne Wills, Ortonville Village manager, who addressed the crowd. “For 22 years he kept that oath by keeping us ‘safe by night and day.’ He did his best to keep ‘trouble’ out of communities and schools in which he served. But Eric went beyond that; to teach and interact as a very highly regarded and beloved liaison officer.”
Rachel Devine, 18, attended Brandon High School when Overall served as liaison officer.
“He was there for students,” said Devine, 18, BHS senior class president. “He would interact with students in the hallway, he lended himself to students and made it a personal goal to improve school life. There were hundreds of students that were impacted on a day-to-day basis. He played football at recess with my sister Rebekah when she was at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School. He took time for students.”
Ortonville resident and former Brandon Fire Chief Robert McArthur, is the president of the Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance. The BGYA strives to strengthen youth and families and to reduce the incidence of delinquency, abuse, and neglect through community involvement. Deputy Overall while being assigned as the Brandon School Liaison also was a member of the board of directors for BGYA.
“During his time there he participated in the training of the Intermediate (school) teachers for a bullying prevention program that became part of the curriculum for the intermediate school, and middle school,” said McArthur. “He also helped spear head the development of the suicide prevention committee, and participated in the training of that committee.”
“With his compassion for the job as police officer, he had a greater compassion for our community, and our children,” he said. “Eric attended several meetings while not on duty, and always was ready to give his opinion and support for the progress of the program. He was not only a police officer but a regular guy who made a huge impact on our community, and can be added to the list of our “hometown heroes.”
“Eric worked closely with the Oakland County Youth Assistance Case Worker who enabled our kids at risk an opportunity to move their life in a good direction, and avoid court and criminal record,” he said. “His kindness and love for the youth and the families he worked with will never be forgotten.”
Brandon Superintendent Matt Outlaw worked with Overall during his time in the school district.
“Deputy Overall was a humble servant that went above-and-beyond for our students,” said Outlaw. “As students and staff have been sharing stories, it has been amazing to hear all of the ways that Deputy Overall impacted our students. He made such a difference here. Students and staff are heartbroken over his loss. Some of his greatest contributions were all of the small contacts that he made with students. They knew that he truly cared about them.”
Josh Eschmann is an Ortonville resident and 2016 Brandon High School graduate.
“Two times I was in minor accidents in front of the high school,” said Eschmann. “Overall arrived on the scene just after the accident where I was hit from behind by another driver. At the time I’m a young driver and I’m scared. But, Overall talked me through the process of the law and what I needed to do.”
“He spent his days at the school talking with students about respect to each other,” he said. “He was a mentor to hundreds of students and provided strong advice about the law. Overall was approachable and was a role model to so many.”