Walking the beat

Park adds community information officer on foot patrol

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 4, 2013

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Residents and visitors might have noticed a new person in uniform on the streets recently.

About three weeks ago, City Manager Dale Krajniak said the city started using one of its veteran park rangers, Dave Thomas, for the newly created position of community information officer. During an Aug. 26 City Council meeting, Krajniak explained that the community information officer will walk through the business districts and some streets to collect concerns and questions that businesses and residents might have and forward those to the appropriate city departments. The intent, Krajniak said by email, is to “improve interaction with merchants on a personal level” and be friendly and “responsive to potential problems.”

“We want to have more of a foot patrol … and a presence on the street,” Krajniak told the council.

Besides patrolling the Park’s commercial districts, Krajniak said Thomas is also walking the more densely populated rental areas, including Wayburn, Maryland and Nottingham and Beaconsfield south of Jefferson.

Krajniak said they want to make the city more accessible to residents and business owners. Members of the public can share any concerns, questions and complaints they may have with Thomas, such as late trash collection or the need for an additional commercial trash container.

“We’re trying to create more of a small-town atmosphere on the street,” Krajniak said.

He said the program has “worked out well in the park system,” which is one of the reasons administrators wanted to try it on the streets. Thomas has worked for the city for the last five or six years, and Krajniak said his “likable, easygoing, mild-mannered” personality made him the perfect candidate for this position. At press time, he said Thomas had already introduced himself to a number of merchants.

The officer is working from 4:30-10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Krajniak said. He said they hope having Thomas walking the community “will enhance” public safety and other areas of concern.

Public Safety Chief David Hiller said Thomas understands he’s to make the Public Safety Department aware of any issues pertaining to that department, and Thomas has been given a radio to report any pressing problems to the department immediately. Krajniak said Thomas doesn’t have arrest powers.

The city manager said Thomas has shown an ability to respond well to different types of situations and issues in the past, and since he started patrolling city streets a few weeks ago, “He’s been very well-received.”

Elected officials also voiced support for the program.

“I think it’s a really good idea,” City Council member Daniel Grano said.

City Council member James Robson said more hours or more community information officers could be added in the future.

“I think it’s a great concept,” he said. “I think it’s a contemporary concept that’s making the city more accessible. I think there’s a demonstrated need (for this).”