Ferndale Hires Outside Experts to Review Police Department

Ferndale Hires Outside Experts to Review Police Department

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 16, 2018)

Ferndale, MI-  Ferndale is following through with the promise to dig deep into the Police Department following the early retirement of Chief Collins and several unsavory news stories about the department.

At Monday’s City Council there was a unanimous decision to hire KRW and Associates of Colorado to evaluate the department, including a review of policies and procedures.   There were four firm specializing in police department reviews that responded to the request for bids, and KRW was chosen.  The $37,500 cost will be split between the drug forfeiture fund and the general fund.

“Both [Interim] Chief Palazzolo and I have been meeting with organizations to help us address some of the concerns that have come up in the department over the last year.  One of the key components of that was doing what we kind of called an assessment of a check of the policies, procedures, policing with modern day technology and media and things of that nature. And just to kind of take a look at what are some things we can do to look at the police department,” said City Manager April Lynch at the council meeting.

In 2016, Ferndale adopted a “community policing” model of law enforcement which included more community engagement and activities, a citizens’ police academy, and the creation of the Community Liaison position which has been held by Sgt. Baron Brown since that time. However, there have been incidents since then that city administration had found unacceptable, including drunk drivers being given breaks because of their police connections, and an officer being charged with excessive force.

Mayor Dave Coulter is optimistic that the assessment will help as the department moves forward. “We promised the community we would do a review of our internal policies and procedures to try and minimize the types of incidents we’ve experienced recently. This independent organization is well respected for doing these kinds of reviews, and by September we should have a better sense of the things we can do to be an even better police department,” Coulter said.

The review will also help the city as it prepares for hiring Chief Collin’s replacement. The City has the option of promoting within, but still must conduct a search and have the position open for applications. Captain Palazzolo is serving as the Interim Police Chief through the coming months.

According to a memo from Lynch, the review will have the following components:

-A  thorough  review  of  the  department’s  policies,  procedures  and  training.

-Specific focus will be dedicated to current training regarding use -of -force and fostering positive community relations.

-An assessment of any areas of perceived or actual racial bias

-A review of the department’s organizational structure, functions and culture.

-A  review  of  policies  and  procedures  related  to  the  internal  processing  and  investigation  of   complaints  made  against  police  officers.

-Specific attention will be given to the  trust,  confidence and transparency of the internal investigation process.

-Identify best policing practices; recommend where they need to be incorporated into current department  operations;  why  and  how  they  can  serve  to  strengthen  the  department  and  build   greater  trust  in  the   community.

-Identify  effective  community  and  education  engagement  opportunities  and  collaborations  that  will  build   lasting  trust,  support  and  mutual  understanding  among  the  community,  neighborhoods,  and  police   officers.

-Identify  method s  and  means  whereby  the  community  can  gain  greater  understanding  of  current  police   challenges, responsibilities, expectations, and life and death decisions.

-Identify any specific areas that appear to expose the department and city to unnecessary risk or liability.

-An  evaluation  of  organizational  leadership  at  all  levels  and  how  leadership  has  affected  service  delivery, communication, organizational attitudes, and performance.

Lynch said that having experts from outside the community will help “identify blind spots,” she said. “Maybe things he [Palazzolo] hasn’t thought of that we can use right now.”

KRW and Associates is located in Colorado. They focus on executive searches and interim leadership as well as evaluations of best practices for municipalities.  Managing Partner Lorne Kramer has experience as both the Police Chief of Colorado Springs and as City Manager.  He also assisted with the often-referenced paper TOTAL Problem-Oriented Policing, which can be downloaded HERE.  He will serve as project manager for the Ferndale Police assessment.

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