By Charles Sercombe
The topic of police department reform has swept the nation. We asked Max Garbarino, the city’s Director of Community Safety and Services, to address the issue.
With there now being a national discussion on police reform, how will this affect Hamtramck?
Garbarino: The national discussion has affected everyone, including our small diverse community. Any show of unnecessary excessive force or discrimination in the performance of law enforcement services undermines the confidence residents have in everything we do.
Hamtramck was one of the first communities in the state to pass an anti-profiling ordinance. The city undertook this measure to ensure that each and every resident of Hamtramck, the most diverse city in the state, feels welcome in our city.
It is our obligation to enforce the law without regard to an individual’s race, color, religion, gender, national origin, gender identity or membership in any other protected class.
It is very unfortunate that it takes a tragic event to spark conversations on much needed reforms, but here in Hamtramck, we are glad those conversations are happening, and we hope they continue to do so. We believe community policing needs to continue to evolve, in order to better protect and serve our city.
Policing as a whole has been changing for the better for a long time, and will continue to do so. It may be hard to see the positive change when tragic events are so widely publicized across news and social media, but we have been making strides forward here in Hamtramck. However we, as a nation, still have a long way to go!
Will you be reviewing what kind of training officers have received, or may still need to learn about?
Garbarino: Our police department trains officers regularly. We are continually evaluating the training offered, in order to best meet the needs of our community and our officers.
Police officers can never have enough training. That includes reviewing current practices and new training to adjust to the ever-changing situations that arise in communities.
Our department provides continual training, and also evaluates our needs as things arise. We do our best to anticipate what may be needed, however sometimes training is a reaction to something new that occurs.
Does our force offer “diversity” training?
Garbarino: Our community is the most diverse city in the region and entire State of Michigan. For years, the Hamtramck Police Department has trained its officers regarding diversity.
We will continue to do so.
Keeping officers trained ensures that our officers understand this community, act professionally, and are well-equipped to provide excellent service to our community.
Is there training on “de-escalation” when dealing with unruly suspects or situation that might erupt?
Garbarino: Officers are training continuously on a variety of topics, including the appropriate use of force, and alternatives to using force.
Classes are provided on de-escalation, and the appropriate techniques used to prevent use of force.
The city knows the value of providing training and seeks out training opportunities for our officers as they become available. Prior to recent events, we improved our own training schedule.
We always look for appropriate new or better training, and will provide it to all of our officers when it becomes available.
Do our officers practice chokeholds to suppress aggressive or uncooperative suspects?
Garbarino: It has long been taught that such a technique is not to be used unless it’s a life and death struggle and deadly force is warranted.
Officers are trained to use alternative techniques and appropriate use of force to subdue aggressive subjects whenever possible. In all cases, officers are only to use the amount of force necessary.
Do you think the so-called “militarization” of police departments has led to assaultive behavior by some officers?
Garbarino: Specialized gear should only be used when appropriate to do so.
Prior to an officer being hired, police departments conduct background checks, psychological exams, and extensive interviews, and use that information to only hire personnel who are right for the position.
We know that every profession may have a bad actor, but in Hamtramck we truly work diligently to hire the right people that can best serve our community.
Hamtramck provides equipment that will keep police officers safe while doing an extremely dangerous job.
When police departments have the right police officers, and use the correct protective equipment, the department can provide excellent service to their community.
A good police officer is one who is right for the job, provided with proper training and education, wearing appropriate protective equipment, and day-to-day doing their job protecting and serving their community.
Any other comment you would like to add?
Garbarino: The City of Hamtramck and its Hamtramck Police Department continue to strive to provide the best service it can to our community.
We welcome positive feedback, good ideas, and suggestions on how we can serve the community better.
We are always looking for volunteers for the Hamtramck Community Patrol, participation in our local block clubs, people to help with the Hamtramck Community Initiative (HCI), people for the Chief’s Advisory Board, and of course new full-time and reserve officers.
Posted June 19, 2020