Volunteers needed for Hazel Park’s Mobile Communications Support Unit

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published December 8, 2021

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HAZEL PARK — The city of Hazel Park is currently recruiting for its Mobile Communications Support Unit — a group of volunteers that help keep the peace.

“The MCSU works closely with the Hazel Park Police and Fire departments to keep the public safe at city functions and during emergencies such as fires, traffic accidents and downed wires,” said Steve Stewart, MCSU coordinator, in a statement.

The group celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. The MCSU could be described as the on-wheels equivalent of the city’s block-by-block Neighborhood Watch program. Members of the group wear uniforms and patrol the city while others are winding down for the night. They ride in specially marked vehicles with amber lights blinking and radios in hand, providing a direct link to authorities.

Their presence helps deter would-be criminals or alert police to crimes in progress. They also maintain security at high-traffic venues such as school sporting events, the fireworks at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, the five-day Memorial Weekend festivities, and more. They keep kids safe as they trick or treat on Halloween, and they also work with emergency responders to protect residents from fallen power lines and other hazards throughout the community.

The group was started by the Hazel Park Police Department in 1967 as a way to encourage resident participation. Those looking to volunteer can pick up applications at the Police Department, located at Hazel Park City Hall, 111 E. Nine Mile Road. They can also call (810) 366-0246 and leave a message, which will be returned as soon as possible.

All applicants will undergo background checks. Only those with a clean criminal record, a valid driver’s license and good driving record are eligible. After meeting all other requirements, they will be interviewed by Hazel Park Police and current MCSU members.

The usual patrol shifts are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 11 p.m., but MCSU members may be called for emergencies at any time. Like the police department, MCSU has a chain of command, and MCSU supervisors are always on the road, ready to take direction from police or notify them of trouble.

MCSU members are unarmed, so they don’t directly intervene; however, they can directly assist with other matters such as broken-down vehicles, debris blowing around posing road hazards, and more. Once they were asked to look for missing kids, and located two of them within minutes.

The members use police radios and cellphones to stay in touch with authorities, as well as overhead lights on their vehicles, and light wands for traffic controls. Many members also bring a variety of tools and gear in their vehicles to assist with safety or road hazard scenarios.

The group requires four hours a week of service, and reliable transportation, but otherwise provides all necessary equipment and training, supplying any equipment on an “on-loan” basis.

“The only special skills needed are to be of good moral character, to be willing to learn and follow directions, and to have a desire to protect the city of Hazel Park,” said Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park, in an email. “The members of the Mobile Communications Support Unit have been unsung heroes, helping to protect the city for many years. The MCSU provides a very valuable service to our community.”

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