Ferndale council chooses firm to review police policies, procedures

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 23, 2018

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FERNDALE — Last month, following the retirement of former Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins, the city announced that it will hold a formal review of the Police Department’s procedures and policies.

Ferndale moved forward with that promise by approving an independent firm to conduct the review at the May 14 City Council meeting.

The City Council approved KRW Associates to lead the review at the cost of $37,500, which will be split between Ferndale’s general fund and money obtained from drug forfeitures.

“This is part of our commitment that we made last month that we would do an independent assessment of our policies and procedures in the Police Department to make sure that they give us the best opportunity not to repeat some of the incidences that we’ve had over the last few years,” Mayor Dave Coulter told the Woodward Talk.

The incidents referenced by Coulter involving the Police Department include the firing of a police officer in April for unbecoming conduct, insubordination, inattention to duty and incompetence; and the resignation of Officer Jason White in 2016 after he was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery for using excessive force during an arrest. White pleaded no contest to the charge and was fined and put on probation.

There also were incidents where a suspected drunken driver and Roseville police officer was driven home instead of arrested in 2017, and a report from WDIV television that Collins did not give a ticket to or arrest a motorist who is the mother of a Detroit police officer and reportedly tested at twice the legal blood alcohol content to drive in April 2016.

City Manager April Lynch said at the May 14 meeting that this type of review is a common assessment that many departments undertake. The top two firms that the city identified were KRW and Police Executive Research Forum, which were the two lowest bidders to conduct the investigation.

“We felt those two companies … meet the need that we had within the department (and) that the (interim) chief (Vincent Palazzolo) and I felt very comfortable with,” she said. “Once we received all the quotes, we met again with KRW Associates just to ensure that they can meet our goals and that we were comfortable with them.”

The review by KRW will start immediately, Lynch said, and a report by the firm should be ready by September, though the city hopes to have contact with the firm throughout the investigation so that the city can implement changes, as needed, as it learns about them.

“The component they’ll be doing is really taking a look at our policies and procedures, looking at our internal affairs, looking at the complaint system that a resident or an individual would have, as well as what the chief refers to as blind spots, things that maybe he hasn’t even thought of that we can address right now,” she said.

Coulter said he doesn’t have a specific agenda with what he wants KRW to find, other than that the city has a fair, independent evaluation of whether the department’s practices could be improved to help mitigate the kinds of incidents that have occurred.

“We take this seriously because we think it could really be a vehicle for helping make sure that we have the best practices in our department,” he said.

Coulter also said that Palazzolo, who was appointed after Collins’ resignation, will continue in his position throughout KRW’s review.

“Our plan right now is to have (Palazzolo) continue to act in that capacity through this period, through this evaluation,” he said. “We’re not actively advertising that position (police chief) at this point.”

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