By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — About 80 people filled a room at the House of Condolences, 7350 Chase Road, Sept. 18 to address safety concerns and solutions following recent crimes in the northeast part of the city.
Mahdi Shukur opened the meeting by stating that the Aviation Property Owners Association would be working with the Police Department to start a neighborhood watch and implement it soon.
He also added that residents in attendance should stop at 15 stop signs by driving through the neighborhood to watch for any suspicious activity instead of driving on the main roads.
The meeting was planned after Saja Aljanabi, 29, of Warren was shot and killed outside her family’s house in the 7800 block of Bingham Sept. 6. One other woman was robbed of her purse and a man was assaulted at gun point in the same area and night.
Police Capt. Issa Shahin said the police and community are one big team and in this together.
“We’re always around, out of sight and out of mind,” he said. “Just because you don’t see us we’re a skip hop away. We’re not far away. If you call 911 we’re there within a minute or two, or less depending on the situation. Don’t be afraid to speak out.”
Some of the tips provided to residents by police are to always be aware of their surroundings, make sure their house is illuminated to the city code, call in any suspicious activities, alarm systems, dogs in backyards, trimming bushes to a minimum and security cameras in neighborhoods.
“Locking your doors, I can’t stress that enough,” Shahin said. “Locking your front door, side door, garage door and car doors. Me, personally, I never keep my doors unlocked.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, community members offered suggestions and asked questions on how to create a safer city or neighborhood.
Some of the topics discussed were more patrolling in the neighborhoods, police budget, keeping youth away from committing crimes, surveillance cameras on Tireman from Wyoming to Greenfield, continued use of unmarked police vehicles, subscribing to Nixle alerts, adding lighting to houses, and having more parents involved in the PTA to bring share issues or solutions.
City Councilman David Bazzy said there are no budget cuts for the Police Department and that the Police and Fire departments take up 65 percent of the city’s budget.
He also said that he’s personally less interested with crimes that take place at Fairlane or Walmart compared to neighborhood crimes because a business has responsibility to maintain its presence, and city has a responsibility to the taxpayers to maintain its presence.
“In terms of where you see police presence I can tell you the police chief (Ronald Haddad) and I have huge disagreements — respectful disagreements,” Bazzy said. “I personally would like to see a greater police presence in the neighborhoods, we’ve had this discussion and recently the city council asked for police reports on a daily basis because numbers don’t tell the whole story.”
Fordson Arab Student Union President Zeinab Alhashemi asked what programs the city has in place for the youth and how the youth can be more proactive to help prevent future crimes.
“We spend an enormous amount of revenue stream on recreation throughout the community and then we have independent organizations that do a very good job creating recreation for residents starting at 4 years old,” Bazzy said. “The schools create a lot of organized activities, so we have organized and unorganized sports — which I think are just as important. I was just at the opening of Graham Park the other day and again, that’s another park in another area that creates an opportunity to play.”
Dearborn School Board President and Federation of Neighborhood Associations President Mary Petlichkoff said the active neighborhood associations hold meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at the Dearborn Administrative Center where reports and information are shared.
“Crime, traffic — we have many issues that are common throughout the city as well as those issues about neighborhood cleanness, property maintenance and all other topics,” she said. “This is not something unusual for the city of Dearborn and we continue to work on these concerns.
“Every time we have an issue that strikes to the heart of a neighborhood, everybody comes out and bands together, but within a year most of the people stop attending the meetings and participating so the neighborhood associations slowly falter and die.”
Petlichkoff said the strength of the city depends on the residents and the neighborhood associations need the community’s help just as much as the community needs them.
Aviation Property Owners Association President Jacklin Zeidan offered a recap at the end of the meeting of simple things Dearborn residents can do to prevent future crimes.
“Have your porch lights on, be attentive, watch your surroundings, call police for abnormal behavior in neighborhoods and don’t sit in your cars, are all common sense tips,” she said. “What do we do? We be attentive, we’re aware, be involved, communicate — we’re not going to solve issues by sitting in our homes.”
To report suspicious crime anonymously call 313-943-3030.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])