There is probably one thing residents can agree on in the latest flap over the police department’s stepped-up enforcement of pedestrian safety laws:
There was a huge failure to communicate by the police department and city administration.
The result of this is justified outrage about the arrest of a man on the southend that resulted in the arrest of a pedestrian for obstruction, and who was also ticketed for jaywalking.
That is not the way to spread the word to the community about pedestrian safety.
All of this started back in last October when the city received an obscure and small $8,000 grant from the state to start an education program. The money was to be spent on officers working overtime to educate the public.
At the time, hardly anyone paid attention to the grant, nor how this would be carried out.
Although the grant was awarded last year, it wasn’t until just a few weeks ago when the department faced a Sept. 30 deadline to show how the funding was used.
So, the department rushed out officers to enforce pedestrian safety.
That resulted in something like 50 or warning tickets and a handful of real tickets.
There was a crucial error, though, in rolling out this program:
No one in the local ethnic communities were contacted — not even this newspaper. Nothing, zilch, nada.
Perhaps the whole grant was ill advised, as City Councilmember Carrie Beth Lasley pointed out in a special council meeting last week to address the issue.
Hamtramckans have, technically, been jaywalking for ages. All of a sudden, this police department and city administration thought that could be turned around with an $8,000 grant?
This was poor planning, and certainly poor execution.
And it is clear that having officers hand out tickets and educate the public is not an effective way to increase pedestrian safety awareness – which is a real issue in Hamtramck.
Let’s hope the city has learned that it much reach out and communicate with the public before rushing out an enforcement program.
Posted Aug. 27, 2021