DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Shortly after being named the new police chief, Dearborn Heights Police Chief Jerrod S. Hart outlined his vision for the department.
Hart served for 26 years with the Novi Police Department, where he served in many roles, including assistant chief of police from 2012 to 2017. In 2017, Hart became police chief in the city of Saline and remained in that post until being hired by Dearborn Heights on Feb. 24.
Hart said that growing up in Taylor, he learned the value of hard work, determination and treating everyone with dignity and respect.
“I was blessed with kind, loving parents who I work hard to honor each day, even though they have both passed away,” he said. “Those early lessons carried with me to my first career at the Novi Police Department, marriage to my wife, Jolee, of 30 years this April, becoming a father and ultimately, chief of police. While at Novi, I earned many assignments and promotions, retiring as assistant chief of police after 26 years to become chief of police in Saline. Each position provided opportunities for growth through perseverance, teamwork and accountability. I do not accept mediocrity.”
While Hart said he isn’t too familiar with how previous chiefs in Dearborn Heights operated, he works hard to be approachable, authentic, friendly and available to the staff and the public, and he plans to have a community focused team.
“I want to establish an authentic community-oriented policing department which builds trust with all community members,” he said. “We will accomplish this through the creation of a strategic plan developed with key community stakeholders and staff who will identify goals and objectives for us to accomplish over a three- to five-year period. The strategic planning committee will develop our mission, vision and values statement for our police department.”
Hart said that in each organization he has worked in, communication has always been an area of improvement.
“Internally, we are developing shift procedures and shift summaries to share with all staff every 12 hours,” he said. “It’s crucial for all of us to know who is working, when they are working and what has occurred during the previous 12-hour shift. This information should be at our fingertips, not something we have to search for. We are also developing monthly reports for each work unit to share data such as how many 911 calls dispatchers take, our top 10 calls for service, how many freedom of information requests our records staff process and how effective we are at solving crime, to name a few. These reports will be shared with staff and Mayor Bill Bazzi.”
Hart also said a major priority for him is the health of the officers serving in the department.
“Finally, officer wellness, mental and physical, is extremely important,” he said. “Sadly, due to stress, hypervigilance and shift work, we tend to have poor nutrition and fail to get proper sleep and exercise. I have been working with a team of medical doctors and psychologists from Reno, Nevada and Chicago, Illinois to improve officer wellness and will be sharing the news with staff in the coming months.”
Hart also said that he’s currently working with Police Commissioner Joseph Thomas to review staffing levels, conduct a task analysis for each position and meet all staff members to gain a firm understanding of the operations to be able to make a recommendation to Bazzi for implementation.
“I want to share that Mayor Bazzi has challenged me to create a world-class police department that all residents and employees are proud of and I am up to the challenge,” he said. “Additionally, staff have been working diligently on accreditation through the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission. We will be completing this work in the coming months as meeting and maintaining contemporary practices in policing is very important to me. We recently re-deployed our plain-clothes Directed Patrol Unit (DPU) back to a uniform presence in our community. Additionally, our Traffic Bureau is in the process of deploying speed measurement signs in areas of concern to provide a visual warning to speeding motorists. In each community I have worked, traffic remains a top concern/priority for community members. Since the pandemic, motorists across the United States have engaged in risky, dangerous behavior resulting in more serious injury and fatal accidents. We all need to work together to be mindful of our speeds, especially in our neighborhoods.”
When Hart was a student at West Junior High, he decided to become a police officer and during career day, Officer Clay Connor of the Taylor Police Department visited his class and shared something that Hart carries with him to this day.
“What resonated with me was the crisp uniform, friendly attitude and ability to help others in their time of need,” he said. “This is how I view police officers; friendly, helpful and setting a positive example for others. I will accept nothing less. Please invite us to your neighborhood and/or special events; we would love to spend time building relationships and trust with you.”