DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Just a month into his tenure with the city of Dearborn Heights, Police Chief Jerrod Hart is implementing his vision.
“First, I want to recognize the awesome team of DHPD officers who work around the clock to ensure our community’s residents, business owners and visitors remain safe,” he said. “And along with Commissioner Dr. Joseph E. Thomas Jr., we greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community. Certainly, like all communities, we do have challenges. I have talked with many residents and business owners since joining the department and am grateful for their concerns, their observations and their opinions regarding some of the more pressing issues we need to consider. I am happy to report that we are already actively approaching many of these issues, which I am confident will result in positive outcomes for all.”
Among the major concerns brought to Hart’s attention were traffic-related issues such as speeding, drag racing and other traffic violations throughout the neighborhoods.
“Based on the input I have received from several of our residents, traffic safety is an area of top priority,” Hart said. “As a result, I have collaborated with our Traffic Bureau and Public Works staff to install several speed display boards in some of the city’s more problematic areas. These large, electronic displays remind drivers of their actual speed in relation to the posted speed limit. Drivers should also be aware that our staff are also frequenting the areas around these signs and will be actively enforcing the traffic laws. Safe streets are one of our highest priorities and we will take whatever steps necessary to make this a reality.”
Another area of importance is the need to embrace a more strategic method of protecting the neighborhoods.
“Organizationally, we are transitioning to a data-driven approach to identify trends and patterns, ‘hot spots’, locations of repeat calls, etc. to assist our uniformed police officers in more effectively addressing criminal activity and quality of life concerns,” Hart said. “One of the key building blocks of this initiative is to make our officers more aware of how this is most effectively done. To help with this, we are sending several members of our staff to a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) conference later this month, which is taking place in Ann Arbor. Armed with a more comprehensive knowledge of how this works, we will be able to more effectively transition our agency to a Community Oriented Policing mindset.”
In Hart’s vision, he outlined a plan for implementing shift summaries to help streamline communication throughout the department from shift to shift and he said it’s already coming to fruition.
“We have implemented a shift summary, which our command staff sends out to all staff at the conclusion of their 12-hour shifts,” he said. “These summaries provide everyone with a brief, yet valuable, view of the more significant issues the outgoing shift has addressed, which better prepares the incoming shift for their role in guarding the community.”
Keeping with his dedication to communication, Hart said that community-oriented communication is just as high of a priority as intra-department communications.
“Visibility within the community is an important element in better protecting our neighborhoods,” he said. “But this goes far beyond just being seen out there. We are making a concentrated effort on reaching out to our residents and business owners wherever possible to help open the lines of communication between them and our staff. This is a fundamental and vital part of effective policing to help secure our neighborhoods and businesses.”
Mayor Bill Bazzi said that he is impressed with what he has seen from Hart so far in his short time with the department.
“Chief Hart has done an excellent job in terms of making improvements, both internally and with the public,” he said. “He has demonstrated a passion for helping make our department one of the area’s best — something we can all appreciate. When I interviewed Chief Hart, one thing that particularly impressed me was his commitment to the belief that an important key to helping improve the level of service to the community is that a department maintains a high level of morale within its staff to — in sorts — help ensure its internal well-being. He and Commissioner Thomas are committing a lot of energy toward this.”
Bazzi also said that the Harts have made it clear that the community and department are a part of their family now.
“When Chief Hart’s wife visited the headquarters recently, she noticed the outdoor gas grill being used by the department staff to cook food on was worn out and in terrible shape,” he said. “A short time later, she purchased a new grill, at a cost of over $400, from her own funds, and donated it to our officers for their use. Things like this — done quietly and probably not brought to light on a widespread basis — are the types of things that help demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of the organization. That’s impressive. I am absolutely confident that, thanks to the leadership of Chief Hart and Commissioner Thomas, and coupled with the support of our great officers who are embracing our goal of continued improvement, our department is on track to solidify its role as one of the strongest, best run and community-minded departments in the area.”