By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The U.S. Department of Justice will help with the Police Department’s training and use of force policies at the request of Police Chief Ronald Haddad in an effort to regain the community’s trust.
Haddad’s request came in the wake of fatal police shootings of two unarmed African Americans in a 33-day period in December and January. Multiple protests were held demanding justice for the shootings. Michigan State Police are investigating both shootings.
At a press conference April 28, Noble Wray, of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said the COPS Office will provide technical assistance to the department.
“I wanted to take action to make sure everything is right in the department and where we could enhance our policies or strategies,” Haddad said.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade praised Haddad’s response to the fatal shootings.
“Chief Haddad called COPS because he noticed that there is always room for improvement within the police department,” McQuade said.
COPS staff and subject matter experts will review the department’s use of force policies and training to provide recommendations to adopt industry best practices.
The COPS office focus areas include: use of force and de-escalation policies, help develop a recruitment strategy toward a diverse population, conduct training on implicit bias and procedural justice.
Finally the COPS Office plans to host a regional workshop on the implementation of recommendations from the final report on the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing.
“Our technical assistance program is designed to make recommendations specifically for each organization we work with,” Wray said. “The goal is to have our assessment completed by the end of the year.
Haddad said recommendations and suggestions made by the COPS Office will be implemented immediately within the department.
“Dearborn has always been a welcoming city,” he said. “We can’t police a community that does not trust us so more dialogue and communication is important.”
Detroit resident Kevin Matthews, 36, of Detroit was shot multiple times by a Dearborn police officer in Detroit after a foot chase and struggle on Dec. 23.
Dearborn police said the Matthews attempted to reach for the officer’s gun during the struggle before he was shot.
Matthews was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy conducted by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Matthews’ death a homicide.
Janet Wilson, 31, also of Detroit was also shot multiple times in her car near The Henry Jan. 27 after she drove away from Fairlane Town Center.
As police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Hubbard Drive near the Southfield Service Drive, Wilson reportedly tried to run over the officer when he got out of his vehicle. The officer drew his weapon and fired multiple shots.
Wilson was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Multiple protests were held demanding justice for the shootings of both Wilson and Janet. Both investigations currently still are ongoing.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])