Dearborn Police Cpl. Jerry Blevins (left) speaks with resident William Olasz during a town hall held by the department Oct. 19 at Bryant Middle School, 460 N. Vernon.
By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – To educate residents about community awareness, the Police Department went back to school.
The department hosted the first of three town hall meetings Oct. 19 at Bryant Middle School, 460 N. Vernon, in an effort to raise community awareness and to showcase the types of vehicles and equipment used in the day-to-day operations.
The next meetings will be held Oct. 27 at city council chambers and Nov. 2 at the Dearborn Public Schools Administration Building, 18700 Audette.
Residents who came to the event said they were glad to see the officers make themselves available to the community.
“I think it’s very informative,” resident Laurie Dear said. “I know there’s been a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood lately them and it’s good to find out what they’re doing about and what we can do to help prevent it and make our neighborhoods safer.”
Assistant Principal Kelly Dear said the town hall meetings are a good way for the department to gain exposure.
“I think this is fantastic,” he said. “Anytime we can bring the community in for multiple reasons – they can come in to meet with the Police Department and find out about the community and also expose them to the schools in the community – it’s a win for everybody.”
The town hall also featured a presentation by police officials Cmdr. Daniel Bartok, Lt. Donald inson, Lt. Jerry Blevins and Chief Ronald Haddad. The presentation focused on crime trends in the city, and ways residents can protect themselves.
“We thought this was a fantastic opportunity to address you, the residents,” Robinson said. “You are a force-multiplier. You help us, and together we’re going to make a big difference in our community.”
Haddad said rates of crimes in the city are similar to those in 2010, but violent crimes have been increasing.
“That’s troubling to us,” he said. “(Breaking and enterings) in the Five Beat ( one of eight sections of the city where police patrol) have gone up. That’s not going to change, so we just have to remain vigilant and get tough on that.”
He said that tips from residents have been important in apprehending suspects involved in various crimes. He said that out-of-town residents, as far away as Grand Rapids, have come in to offer their assistance in cases ranging from a fatal shooting at Sunrise Beauty Supply in March and a robbery at Starters Bar and Grill the same month.
The presentation also included a description of programs offered for high school students and residents through up to age 21. Armstrong and Blevins spoke about the city’s internship program instituted in July 2010 for recent high school graduates, and the Dearborn Police Departments Explorer Program, open to 14 to 21 year olds interested in careers in law enforcement.
Armstrong said the interns help during many functions, including Homecoming, the Memorial Day parade and the Farmer’s Market in an effort to help expose them to a career in law enforcement.
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected])