Clinton Township police officer Jodi Melise helps Jhiya Love, 5, of Clinton Township, try on a police vest during Clintondale High School’s open house Aug. 28. The event helped encourage young people to look into becoming future first responders.

Clinton Township police officer Jodi Melise helps Jhiya Love, 5, of Clinton Township, try on a police vest during Clintondale High School’s open house Aug. 28. The event helped encourage young people to look into becoming future first responders.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Community on display at first responder open house in Clinton Township

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 6, 2019

 Clinton Township Fire Department Training Chief Steve Dalton shows Kaylee Peters, 9, of Clinton Township, how to operate a fire hose.

Clinton Township Fire Department Training Chief Steve Dalton shows Kaylee Peters, 9, of Clinton Township, how to operate a fire hose.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Dion Hempill, 7, of Clinton Township, checks out the inside of an ambulance with the help of Alex Barczak, operations manager at Medstar.

Dion Hempill, 7, of Clinton Township, checks out the inside of an ambulance with the help of Alex Barczak, operations manager at Medstar.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — They are first responders — the men and women who fight crime, or fires, or drive the ambulance to the hospital. Day in and day out, they provide a sense of safety to a large, developed community.

But as time passes, the fields are changing. Also, local enthusiasm may be lacking in terms of staffing future personnel.

As a way to educate local youths, children and their families were invited Aug. 28 to Clintondale High School as part of a districtwide open house. The event included information relevant to district schools.

But the real show was outside, where Clinton Township police officers and firefighters were joined by Medstar employees. Kids had the opportunity to sit inside law enforcement vehicles, hold a fire hose, try on police vests and engage in various drills.

Clinton Township Trustee Mike Keys said the idea originated after conducting ride-alongs with police and fire over the past couple of years. Seeing the dedication in person was inspiring, he said.

But it also prompted him to look at other communities, in terms of how they deal with emergency situations.

Keys said the state of California was a good example, due to first responders having trouble communicating with Spanish-speaking individuals because of language barriers. Programs helped lessen the impasse between citizens and first responders, actually encouraging a dramatic rise in minority applicants for open police, fire and EMS positions.

“Police and fire are fields that are dominated by white men, and so if we can reach out into the community and find people that maybe never thought of firefighting or being a police officer as a career, and show them that this is an option for them — but more than that, provide some type of mentorship for those students,” it is a good thing, Keys said.

CTFD Chief Tim Duncan said he and members of his department enjoy reaching out to interested individuals, showing them what happens on the daily grind. Medstar, which has offered programs in Eastpointe for people interested in full-fledged careers, is viewing Clinton Township as a possible next destination for certification courses.

“We don’t really get a lot of opportunities to hire a lot of Clinton Township residents, for some reason, so we want to diversify a lot and give them that opportunity to see what we do and kind of put a face to the job,” Duncan said.

Teenagers don’t often look at firefighting and consider it a future profession, he said, and he’s not sure if it’s due to the level of danger or whether it takes a lot of time and effort to get certified.

As Duncan put it, it’s about getting the youth to understand that they need to challenge themselves.

“It’s really (about) being exposed to it,” he said. “I didn’t start this job until I was basically 33 years old, so I had already had a separate career and decided I wanted a change. This really fit me.

“If we can expose them to it at an early age — we’re starting to hire a lot of 21-, 22-year-olds. They’ve known pretty much throughout high school that they wanted to do this. The fact that this (Medstar) program can offer up a free EMT license by the time you get out of high school is phenomenal.”

Jodi Melise has been a Clinton Township police officer for 21 years. She said everybody already knows the strenuous parts of police work, and she encourages individuals to look at all the benefits.

Police officers wear many hats, so to speak, working in areas like traffic, patrol, SWAT, the detective bureau, and as part of the DEA. A bigger effort is being made to attract applicants from Clinton Township who already know the community and want to remain a part of it.

“We have a great community, great community support,” Melise said. “We have a great Police Department. We have other aspects of police work you can go into. … I hope it encourages the youth from our community to get people from Clinton Township to be Clinton Township police officers. That would be wonderful.”

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