Dearborn police host community workshop at FHS

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — People in attendance at the Dearborn police community workshop April 19 received a crash course on defending against hate crimes, domestic terrorism and mental health.

The topics were presented by Cpl. Dan Bartok at Fordson High School, 13800 Ford Road.

He began the discussion with community policing which includes building relationships, trust and communication between residents and the police department.

“We host meetings like this to know about things we are not aware of and what is going on out there, straight from the community,” Bartok said.

Bartok also talked about the different definitions of “hate crime” with the Merriam Webster explanation and FBI explanation.

“Any of various crimes (such as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member for group (such as one based on color, creed, gender or sexual orientation,” as defined by Webster.

The FBI uses, “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”

Bartok said Dearborn does not have many hate crimes and if everyone is educated and aware of what they are, the low hate crime numbers can stay that way.

Another topic discussed was the “if you see something, say something” initiative which aims to raise public awareness on the indicators of crime in Dearborn. Residents can call the police department’s tip line and remain anonymous at 313-943-3030.

Bartok then touched on domestic terrorism which was defined as “a threat or act of violence in the pursuit of political aims, religious or ideological change. He also said terrorism has many faces and there is no one profile.

Tips were then given to residents on crowd observation for suspicious indicators and how to protect themselves everyday.

A few tips included trusting instincts, parking in a well lit area, traveling with companions, keeping a cellphone accessible and remaining alert to surroundings.

During the law enforcement and mental health intervention model, Bartok spoke about youth radicalization and autism services.

He told residents that it is possible youth in the community can be recruited and radicalized to become terrorists which lead to FBI investigations.

“Radicalizers use the most popular social media sites and apps including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube to find potential recruits,” Bartok said. “Ask your children, peers and neighbors what apps they use, why they prefer one over the other and if they really know the people they are communicating with.”

Autism characteristics and services closed out the presentation with tips on how to approach an autistic person and an explanation of the condition.

“A neurologically developmental disability characterized by difficulty in communication, socializing, making judgments and understanding the perspectives of others,” the slide in Bartok presentation read. “It is also a spectrum disorder meaning it affects every individual differently and to varying degrees.”

Some of the characteristics of autism include verbal or non-verbal communication, needing photos to communicate, attachment to objects, avoiding eye contact, repeating phrases and difficulty interacting with others, according to the presentation.

Bartok said helpful tips to interacting are to be calm and patient, use gestures or visual support, speak slowly, give space and use fewer words. He also informed the audience that the city has a Special Needs 911 Registry which residents can add their family member with autism or other disabilities.
Go to www.cityofdearborn.org/services/public-safety/dearborn-special-needs-registry to access the online registry form.

Another workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon May 19 at the Dearborn Police Department, 16099 Michigan Ave.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)

Tags: