Harper Woods officials host a virtual public forum Oct. 6 to discuss various aspects of public safety within the city.

Harper Woods officials host a virtual public forum Oct. 6 to discuss various aspects of public safety within the city.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Harper Woods leaders host public safety forum

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 16, 2020

HARPER WOODS — Several Harper Woods leaders came together to host a public safety forum online Oct. 6.

The meeting was hosted on Zoom and was open to the public. It was organized by the Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Committee.

“I’m part of the Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Committee of the (Neighborhood Economic Development Center). We meet once a month and we’ve been planning this town hall for several months,” said 32-A Judge Daniel Palmer. “I think the meeting was a success and I thought there were a lot of informative presentations for people in the community. There’s a lot to learn about public safety.”

Several different aspects of local safety were discussed and the organizers hope it to be the first of many.

“We want to do this three or four times a year and have workshops to train citizens,” said organizer and City Councilwoman Cheryl Costantino. “I’m still pushing for more first aid training and AED units installed. We think our community would be strengthened if a number of people had this sort of training to handle different emergency situations.”

Several leaders including Costantino brought up various programs and initiatives that can help make Harper Woods a safer place to live. Costantino focused on training programs available to the public.

“People can gain a lot of knowledge and get some great training for free through these efforts,” she said. “It will help the neighborhood and help their family in addition to helping make Harper Woods a safer place. It’s also fun. We have a lot of fun working together.”

She also brought up initiatives such as the Neighborhood Eyes and Ears Deterrent.

“Our vision is for sort of a modernized neighborhood watch,” Costantino explained. “We want people to voluntarily register their security cameras so we could call them up as part of the Neighborhood Eyes and Ears Deterrent system and better find people if they commit a crime or have a record of crimes or accidents when they happen. We also want to paint addresses on the fronts of houses, and we are looking for volunteers for that.”

Palmer stressed programs that people can use to resolve conflict peacefully and without taking legal action.

“I wanted to give a background of the Michigan Resolve program and conflict resolution as a whole,” he said. “Sometimes people will have disputes with a neighbor or with a business. It can even be something like divorce or child custody. We want peaceful means of resolving conflict without involving law enforcement.”

He said there are a number of ways people can take part in conflict resolution. This includes scheduling appointments with MI-Resolve by going to www.courtinnovations.com/miwmc or contacting the Wayne Mediation Center at (313) 561-3500 or going to wcdrc.org.

“The community dispute resolution program is a statewide program, and there’s 17 offices in the state, and Wayne County has one called the Wayne Mediation Center,” said Palmer. “You can contact that group and do either a Zoom call or do a telephone conference to resolve the matter with or without a mediator. Michigan Resolve is an online dispute resolution program. It’s all about finding a way to do this comfortably.”

Public Safety Director Vincent Smith focused on fire safety and other commonsense measures to help residents keep themselves safe.

“During the month of October there is Fire Safety Awareness Week,” he said. “We want people to be careful with clothes dryers and cleaning out their lint filters and safety while cooking. People should never leave their food unattended if they’re cooking, and never wear loose-fitting clothing near the flames for instance.”

He also reminded people that an important part of fire safety is making sure their smoke detectors are working properly.

“Smoke detectors are always important,” said Smith. “This is a good time of year to check them and replace the batteries. You also should replace the detector itself every 10 years.”

He is hopeful the public forums will become a regular occurrence so more Harper Woods residents can participate and city officials can update them on new opportunities or concerns.

“Commonsense, everyday things are easy to forget about. We want to remind people or teach people about these little things that they can do themselves and prevent an emergency,” he said. “We hope these forums become a quarterly event so people can join in future forums. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do them in person in the near future.”

Future forums and meetings of the Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Committee and other similar events will be announced on the city’s website, www.harper woodscity.org, under the police department section. They plan on virtual meetings until they are sure in-person gatherings can be done safely again.

“There was a lot of really good information at the meeting,” Costantino remarked. “They said it was a good workshop and they learned a lot. We want to keep that momentum going. We are planning on a first aid, CPR class coming up and other hands-on training for things like fire safety in the near future.”