Haddad receives national honors

Photo courtesy of Governing magazine

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad stands between Motorola Solutions Vice President of Strategic Projects Debora Courtwright (left) and former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening during a ceremony Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C., honoring Haddad as one of Governing’s 2011 Public Officials of the Year.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Police Chief Ronald Haddad’s efforts to make the city a safer place have not gone unrecognized.

For his work involving community policing, Haddad was honored as one of Governing Magazine’s 2011 Public Officials of the Year during a ceremony at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17.

Haddad, police chief since 2008, joins Michigan winners including Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer (2000), former Gov. John Engler (2001) and former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives Curtis Hentel (1994).

“It’s a great honor and respect to get (the award),” Haddad said. “It’s good that Dearborn is recognized … for our programs.”

Haddad was one of nine honorees, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, State Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R-Utah) and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.

Archer said Haddad has the personality and the sensitivity to work with all members of the community.

“If I were still mayor,” he said, “I would have looked at him at being the Chief of Police for the city of Detroit. He’s that good.”

Haddad said all award winners were held to the same criteria: the contribution by the individual benefitted the country and succeeded during difficult economic times.

The award motivates Haddad to continue building on the city’s success, adding he is encouraged the city is moving in the right direction, he said.

Haddad’s policy of community policing, established while he served in the Detroit Police Department, helps the department keep the community safe, he said. With the aid of community members, the department has a 95 percent rate of identifying suspects and issuing arrest warrants.

“I realized that more than not, there were people out there working just as hard to keep the city safe,” he said. “If the community doesn’t trust the police, then our jobs are immensely more difficult and much less effective.”

Using the community to help with issues such as counter-terrorism, he said, is essential to identifying those who can easily blend into the community. He said the tactic works because most people are driven by their own good will.

“Who better to partner with than the people in your community to make sure the community stays safe?” he said.

He said starting community policing was difficult because in the Arab-American community, people are sometimes made to feel inferior or seen as the “enemy” because of misunderstood religious or ethnic beliefs seen in movies or television.

He said the community needs to feel as if they are equal partners with police, an effort encouraged through the use of programs like Nixle, a notification service by which residents receive text message or email community alerts and crime mapping, which uses resident-posted tips to help determine which crimes occur most in specific areas.

Though community policing has been positive, Haddad said, keeping the community involved is up to public officials.

“Human beings, when included in a solution, tend to measure up really big,” he said. “It’s up to us as leaders to reach out to them.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)