By Charles Sercombe
Talk about bad timing.
Just as city officials are weighing various options of how to continue to fund the police department and even consider contracting out its services, along comes an investigative news story that makes the department look like a bunch of lazy cops.
WXYZ Action News Investigator Scott Lewis aired a report last week about a hit and run driver that Hamtramck cops refused to do anything about.
An employee at the Mobil gasoline station at Caniff and Dequindre said a driver rear-ended his car and then took off. The employee, Joe Zago, got the license plate number and a fellow employee got a good look at the driver, who appears to be Rebecca Alwagih.
The whole thing was also recorded by the gas station’s security camera. When police officer Amy Buchl arrived at the scene, Zago said she refused to take a report, saying it’s department policy not to take reports for accidents that happen on private property.
Technically, that policy is allowed under state law, which says local departments are not “obligated” to take reports of incidents that occur on private property.
But there’s a catch. This was a case of a hit and run, and according to state law that is a misdemeanor crime.
Even though Zago pointed that out to the Buchl and the department, the shift commander refused to investigate.
Had the department run down the license plate number, they would have found out that it belonged to Alwagih, who has a long history of traffic accidents and tickets. In fact, she also has arrests warrants for her from Detroit and Birmingham.
She also owes Detroit over $2,000 in traffic fines.
In Lewis’ report, he said that Police Chief Mark Kalinowski, reached by phone, said he would review that policy.
Kalinowski could not be reached for comment, but City Manager Bill Cooper confirmed that the policy has been thrown out. He said traffic reports will now be taken no matter where they occur.
“Since it’s become an issue, we’re going to change it,” Cooper said.