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Harper Woods to host public safety workshops

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published March 13, 2020

File photo

HARPER WOODS — Harper Woods is looking to get safer and will be doing so by offering a series of safety workshops.

The workshops are the creation of the newly formed Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Task Force. The group consists of residents trying to find ways to improve their city. It includes several community leaders, such as Director of Public Safety Vincent Smith, 32-A District Court Judge Daniel Palmer and City Councilwoman Cheryl Costantino.

“The first thing we’re going to do is have a public safety workshop series,” Costantino said. “We’ll have four in May, which we are calling Public Safety Awareness Month. The workshops will have 40 spots open to the public. They have to be Harper Woods residents. They need to be prepared to be active in the community. They can sign up by emailing (Smith at vsmith@harperwoods.net).”

Costantino said the group originated out of efforts to improve the city’s economic development efforts. She said more prosperity isn’t worth much if people don’t feel safe living or visiting the city.

“There’s been a group of residents meeting with our economic development director, Ty Hinton, for several years helping improve the city,” she said. “One of their goals was to have a committee like this. They made a Neighborhood Improvement Plan, and this was a key part of that.”

The workshops will take place over the course of four meetings.

“It’s taking place in May on Thursday, May 7; Monday, May 11; Thursday, May 21; and Tuesday, May 26,” Costantino said. “They will begin at 6:30 p.m. with some light refreshments, and the classes will start at 7 p.m. It will take place at City Hall, either in the fire department and police department or in the courtroom.”

Palmer will be providing advice at some of the workshops regarding the court.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to interact with city employees that serve the public, including the police department, the City Council and the courthouse,” Palmer said. “There are a lot of useful lessons to learn, such as first aid, active shooter training and more. I was very impressed with the programs we have been able to get slated for the workshops.”

Palmer believes the workshops could help a lot of people.

“The content is valuable in the sense it teaches very useful skills,” he said. “I think people in the community are interested in learning these things. Plus, any chance we get to interact directly with residents is a benefit for everyone. Harper Woods is a great community, and we have very dedicated public servants, and hopefully this will allow residents to work with them and get any questions they have answered.”

Instruction and advice will be offered in a variety of areas, all aimed at improving safety and security in Harper Woods.

“At the workshops, we will have crime prevention tips, tornado preparedness, how to use a fire extinguisher, bike safety, AED and CPR overviews, how to stop bleeding overviews, 32-A District Court information, what to do if stopped by the police, and demonstrations of the K-9 Unit and police drone,” Costantino explained. “We’ll also have gun safety lessons and be giving away gun locks. We’ll go over two or three of these at each workshop night.”

The task force also hopes to use the meetings to organize a virtual neighborhood watch program.

“We’ll have the virtual neighborhood watch program called NEED — Neighborhood Eyes and Ears Deterrent,” Costantino said. “Old-school neighborhood watch doesn’t use so much technology. Those with (security) cameras can register with the city, and the police can use those cameras to see if they can find information, like suspect descriptions or license plate numbers, when a crime is committed nearby. We hope to get every street in the city covered by at least one camera. It’s not something they will use unless a crime has been committed and they have permission.”

Costantino said people need to be informed of how to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.

“Not too long ago, I went to my aunt’s funeral and a man collapsed in front of me,” she said. “The church didn’t have an AED machine, nor one nearby; the ambulance took 20 minutes to get there, and no one knew how to help. The man ended up dying. If this took place in Harper Woods, I think he would have made it. We want to train more people to handle these kinds of situations.”

With more people educated by the workshops, city officials hope lives will not only be improved, but saved.

“We want to make sure people know how to react to emergencies,” Costantino said. “A lot of people don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher. If there is an AED unit on-site, they wouldn’t even know how to use it. These are things people need to know.”