Meet Your Neighborhood Police Officers
Neighborhood Police Officer Dale Dorsey, 3rd precinct
Officer Dale Dorsey has worked with the Detroit Police Department for 15 ½ years. In his current position as a Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) he is able to show law enforcement in a different light, especially with the youth. NPO Dorsey said, “People see traffic stops and see arrests. But we are connecting with the people. The kids see me in the schools talking about guns and violence.”
“We are getting the message out that we are all on the same team. We are fighting against criminals depriving us of our quality of life.” Officer Dorsey explained. He shares that message all throughout the 3rd precinct where he works. His job consists of meetings, school visits and business interactions. He is a direct contact for the citizens. They know his name and have his cell phone number. He is able to build relationships and break down barriers. NPO Dorsey described his job saying, “I can take time for conversations. I can sit with them. We aren’t running from call to call so I can deal with the small issues in the neighborhoods and try to prevent things.”
The Neighborhood Police Officers program makes citizens feel more comfortable with law enforcement. Consistency and accountability are key factors with the program and the citizens are taking notice. “We are on their team. They know they aren’t by themselves.” NPO Dorsey said.
NPO Dale Dorsey
Neighborhood Police Officer Baron Coleman, 8th precinct
After 20 years on the job, Officer Baron Coleman has just about seen it all. He likes to fix things and that is a perfect fit for his current role as a Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO). As an NPO he has one tool most officers don’t have – time. “We are allowed to take time to fix the issues which patrol doesn’t have time to fix.” NPO Coleman explained. NPOs have the time and resources to get to the root of community problems and to find real solutions.
“The NPO opportunity provides more time, more leeway to help with the issues, whether the issues are big or small.” NPO Coleman said. NPOs are able to build relationships, forge friendships, develop trust and strengthen ties with the community. NPO Coleman said, “When you answer the phone and people tell you their problem, it’s major to them. They need resolution and they need to know you care.” He enjoys getting creative with the solutions and involving community businesses.
It is evident that NPO Coleman is passionate about his job. He said, “Chief Craig had a good vision and I was able to be a part of it so I’m thankful for that.” For him, the best part of the job is a simple thank you. “The greatest thing I get from this job is hearing “thank you”. It feels good when people are appreciative of the work you do.”
NPO Baron Coleman
Neighborhood Police Officer Steven Shank, Downtown Business Services
Neighborhood Police Officer Steven Shank grew up in the City of Detroit and he says he wants to make a difference in the City. That’s exactly what he is doing, working as a Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) with the Detroit Police Department.
NPO Shank is assigned to the Downtown Services District, which is within the 3rd Precinct. The neighborhoods he patrols look different than neighborhoods in most precincts; they are lofts and apartments filled to capacity. “It’s an exciting time to be an NPO downtown. You experience the neighborhood in a way most NPOs don’t,” he explains. He loves being a part of the revitalization of Detroit and working with businesses to keep the area safe. While he’s working in a bustling and busy downtown, the growth doesn’t come without its consequences.
In an area where thousands of people visit for events, there is an influx in the homeless population. “My success stories are whenever I make that weakness a strong point,” he said when discussing the issue of homelessness. He gave the example of one individual who continued to trespass and harass people in and around a church downtown. He was very familiar with this man but one day they started talking and had a personal conversation. NPO Shank learned about the challenges of his past and encouraged him towards a brighter future. He provided resources and told him about permanent housing available for the homeless in Michigan. After some time had passed, NPO Shank was working one day and saw someone running toward him. It was the same homeless man, only now he wasn’t homeless. NPO Shank said, “He says, ‘Look, here is my key fob. Here are my keys. I made it. I did what you said and I’m going to stay clean. I’m going to do it.’ ”
After 18 years on the job, it is clear that NPO Shank still loves being a police officer. He said, “My greatest joy is changing the lives of the individuals I’m around.”
NPO Steven Shank
Neighborhood Police Officer Shawn Duncan, 7th precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer Shawn Duncan says he was a born protector with a knack for problem solving. That’s served him well in his 18 years as a Detroit Police officer. He currently works as a Neighborhood Police Officer assigned to the 7th precinct. He says he likes the connection with the community and the accessibility of DPD officers is paying off. “It’s a really big improvement from the relations that we had in the past,” NPO Duncan explains.
By building relationships, NPOs are playing a vital role in bridging the gap between the police department and the community. Thanks to a partnership he forged with a business in the 7th precinct, he was able to take a wanted felon off the streets. The store was having a problem with someone loitering but every time they called 911, the man took off. NPO Duncan talked to store management, identified the suspect through community contacts and shared his cell phone number with the manager. The next time the man caused a problem, they called NPO Duncan on his cell phone. He quickly arrived, identified the man and made the arrest. The suspect was a wanted felon.
NPO Duncan says people are often less intimidated to call him than to call 911. Therefore, he’s getting information from the community saying, “They can tell us what’s going on there because the people know more than we do because they live there. They’re there 24 hours a day.” While he’s getting to know the community, the community is also getting to know him. “If you’re doing your job properly, people really get to know you,” he explains. It’s a police-community partnership that is proving to be a big success for the City of Detroit.
NPO Shawn Duncan
Neighborhood Police Officer Brad Hawkins, 9th precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer Brad Hawkins works in one of the most economically challenged parts of Detroit. He says he loves working in the 9th precinct and serving a population which has historically been neglected. “It took us two years, or probably a year, before we were able to build that trust. For years, projects, non-profits and schools would come into the 9th precinct and make promises but they weren’t sustainable,” NPO Hawkins explained.
Thankfully things are changing and there is new promise in the 9th precinct. The Neighborhood Police Officers program has been a key component in the cultural shift, along with changes in city management and available resources. NPO Hawkins said one of the biggest changes he’s noticed is empowerment. For the first time, the citizens feel empowered. “They know they are making a difference and they know we are there to get their back,” he said. The city and police department are responding to their needs and it’s making a difference.
The 9th precinct now has two strong community groups and participates in radio patrols, allowing citizens to patrol their neighborhoods. NPO Hawkins said citizens are no longer afraid to report crimes and they are taking ownership of the things happening in their community. NPO Hawkins works constantly to improve communication so the citizens know what resources are available. “We are proactive, like social workers, trying to get them jobs, getting them job forces. There was an Expungement Fair the other day. We talked about how to get your criminal record cleared out so that you can move forward. We aren’t just trying to arrest our way out of these problems,” said NPO Hawkins.
NPO Hawkins is from Detroit and lives in the city. He’s worked 19 years with DPD and 10 years as a community relations cop. He said he cares about these neighborhoods just like he cares about his own neighborhood. To him, the most rewarding part is providing motivation and hope to citizens. “Their belief in the system and belief in themselves is the most rewarding part,” he explained.
NPO Brad Hawkins
Neighborhood Police Officer Tanda Owens, 8th precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Tanda Owens is passionate about her job and loves arranging events for the community. Serving as a NPO in the 8th precinct, Owens has created a number of successful community events including the Youth Career Expo, Movies in the Park, back-to-school backpack giveaways, coat drives and to provide security alarms for seniors. She believes in setting people up for success and providing resources for the community. “We’re going into the community, identifying a need and addressing the quality of life issues,” she explained.
The Youth Career Expo, which is in its fourth year, provides high school students with attainable career alternatives. “Not everyone is college bound so we have to put something that is reachable. That’s what I do. We help put something in front of them that we know they can get and complete it successfully,” NPO Owens said.
Movies in the Park is a favorite for NPO Owens and the community. With the help of sponsors, Neighborhood Police Officers in the 8th precinct put up two big screens and show movies for kids and their families. They have food and everyone hangs out together before the movie begins. The Mounted Unit stops by and the police K-9s are often there. “There have been times when I’ve done the Movies in the Park when a kid will grab my leg and say, ‘Thank you for the movies’ and it literally brings tears to my eyes,” said NPO Owens.
In addition to these events, she hosts a back-to-school event, providing students with backpacks which are donated by sponsors. “We let them know, not only do we care about them but so does the individual that is sponsoring them,” she explained. For the past four years, she hosted a community coat drive. “I’ve given somebody a ticket for a traffic violation and given them a coat too. It’s nothing. To me, that’s a normal thing to do,” she said. She also worked with Home Depot to provide home alarms for seniors in the community. NPO Owens loves her job and gets joy from providing these services, “I’m thankful that I work for a police department that allows me to do what I love to do best. There are no restrictions when it comes to help.”
NPO Tanda Owens
Neighborhood Police Officer Collette Burks-Weathers, 2nd precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Collette Burks-Weathers says she provides “concierge services” to the citizens of Detroit. That is her motto as a Neighborhood Police Officer. “Concierge services in that you wait on them no matter where they come from and you treat them as if they were your family member,” she explained. With that attitude, she embodies what it means to be a public servant.
NPO Burks-Weathers works in the 2nd precinct and spends her days building relationships. She says it is a team effort between citizens, businesses and the police department. “Everything is connected. It goes together like a puzzle,” she explained, also comparing it to baking a cake, saying each ingredient is necessary for a successful outcome.
After 20 years on the job and two years as an NPO, she has plenty of success stories to share. She believes part of her job is to nurture and encourage people. She spoke of receiving a letter after one interaction. A man followed her advice to get out of a negative situation and reconnect with his daughter and grandchild. Months later he sent a letter to her precinct, thanking her. “So if I touch one life like his, imagine in my 20 years I’ve probably touched a lot of lives by giving them helpful and encouraging information,” she reflected. She said she sees people with skills who are using those abilities in an unproductive way. “Some people are mechanically inclined but they are a car thief. They have a gift. They’re using it but they’re using it in an unconstructive way,” she explained. She provides alternatives and encouragement.
NPO Burks-Weathers loves providing a connection to DPD and knowing that people feel safe in their communities and trust the police. She continues to give “concierge services”, knowing her simple words of advice and encouragement can make all the difference for her community.
Neighborhood Police Officer Tania Anding, 12th Precinct
Much like her colleagues, Neighborhood Police Officer Tania Anding works in the 12th Precinct, building relationships and bridging the gap between the Detroit Police Department and the community. In one and a half years as an NPO, she’s already started four block clubs, one radio patrol and an apartment watch group. She’s in the process of forming two more block clubs. She says it’s “on-going” and there is never a dull day as an NPO. However, the hard work pays off. She explained, “It’s rewarding. It feels good when someone just shakes your hand and says, ‘I appreciate you.’”
Right now, NPO Anding is focusing on an area which the 12th Precinct just adopted two years ago, 7 Mile between Woodward and John R. “It’s a huge challenge. I’ve been working in that area strong for the past couple of months,” she said. “I’ve just been cleaning up there.” Being present in an area is often all it takes for NPOs to start forming lasting relationships. As she works to clean the area, that sense of ownership is shared with the citizens. She said it helps homeowners and renters because “people want to come somewhere where the neighborhood is attractive.”
NPO Anding worked with one particular home owner who was being bullied by the community. The bullying was so severe that he ended up leaving his home and moving to Cincinnati. Eventually, he was put in touch with NPO Anding. Thanks to her encouragement and commitment to working with him, this man was able to move back into his home in Detroit.
These small things make a big difference. Every day, NPOs like Tania Anding are committed to making that positive impact, improving neighborhoods and the quality of life in Detroit.
Neighborhood Police Officer Douglas Nichols – 11th Precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Douglas Nichols has been a Detroit Police Officer for 40 years. He’s been a Neighborhood Police Officer since the program began three years ago. He’s seen the program grow and believes it is making a difference in Detroit. “We’ve brought the community together with the Police Department. Working with the community is a good thing. A very good thing,” he said.
During his 40 year career, he’s worked all over the department but he says it’s different as a NPO. “As a Neighborhood Police Officer you’re more in touch with the community,” he explained. NPO Nichols also serves as a Field Training Officer, teaching new officers the importance of community outreach. “The community is your eyes and ears out there,” he explained. “Without the community, we can’t do what we do. We need the community involvement. You just can’t make it without the community.”
Although he teaches this lesson to new officers, NPO Nichols says being a NPO is not for everyone. “You have to be a self-giving person to be a Neighborhood Police Officer. You have to be,” he said. After 40 years of service, NPO Nichols continues to give to his community and the city which he loves.
Neighborhood Police Officer Michael Crowder – 12th Precinct
After 18.5 years with the Detroit Police Department, NPO Michael Crowder feels he is exactly where he needs to be, serving as a Neighborhood Police Officer. “I feel I have the tools to go out and help people and that’s rewarding to me. When you can go out and you can make a difference in someone’s lives and a lot of times we can make a difference, we may impact an entire block in a positive way, so that’s rewarding,” he explained. He is committed to increasing the quality of life for citizens in the 12th Precinct and looks for ways build relationships.
After noticing a particular problem in his precinct, NPO Crowder took action. “I started this initiative of posting ‘No Loitering, No Trespassing’ signs in all of our stores and gas stations,” he said. In addition to the signs, the NPOs took ownership, following up with businesses to make sure the message was being enforced. “Business owners told me they’ve noticed a difference. That was really self-gratifying for me,” he said.
“The community, they really depend a lot on Neighborhood Police Officers to help resolve their problems. It becomes frustrating when, as an NPO, you can’t get to everyone to do everything that you need to do because you just can’t be everywhere at the same time,” NPO Crowder explained. Despite the constant need, he knows he’s making a difference. “It benefits the community member as well as myself. I get a thrill from helping others. I feel that in doing this you have to have a strong compassion and passion for this job.”
Neighborhood Police Officer Robert Barber – 10th Precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Robert Barber says the seniors in his community have a special place in his heart. “It really tugs at your heart strings because they are so appreciative of you just taking that time out,” he explained. Together with his partners in the 10th Precinct, he spends time taking care of the seniors. They began taking seniors to the movies on the first Wednesday of every month and now take them grocery shopping as well. NPO Barber says seniors are often forgotten and he wants to help fill that void. The NPOs often use their own time and personal vehicles to ensure the seniors are cared for, regardless of the day, time or circumstances. “At the end of the day they give you a hug and a kiss and say, ‘I love you’. It really warms your heart.”
NPO Barber also focuses on students, connecting with the youth as well. “We do programs where we will go to a school and talk to a gym full of kids on cyber bulling, social media and just try to make them aware,” he said. It’s educational and an important message to share but this is also a chance for the NPOs to build relationships with the students. “We really like to show the difference between what they assume about police and who we really are. They assume we are just robots and that we’re not human. But they don’t understand we have families; we have kids. We are really down to earth.”
NPO Barber loves his job and his community. It is evident that he cares for those he serves. His dedication is just another example of why Neighborhood Police Officers mean so much to their communities.
Neighborhood Police Officer Samuel Balogun - 7th Precinct
Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Samuel Balogun has been with the NPO program since it first began under Chief Craig’s leadership. Together with his colleagues, he says NPOs are “bridging the gap” between the police department and the community. It’s a job which he believes is a critical component to policing in Detroit. “I think it’s the reason why we haven’t seen a lot of rioting in Detroit because the community and the police, we are so together,” NPO Balogun said.
While the Neighborhood Police Officers play a critical role in community policing, NPO Balogun praises his fellow officers working the street. “I think it’s like a wheel. Everything works together,” he explained. He said all officers have compassion but those responding to calls do not have time to stay, talk and develop relationships. “But when the officer on the street leaves after a shooting scene, it’s called wrap around,” NPO Balogun explained. “Every time there is a shooting or a fatality, the next day, the NPOs go to the area and say, ‘Man, I’m sorry for your loss.’” That compassion shows a different side of policing and helps foster trust and build relationships. “As an NPO, we go in a different format. We go as a friend. We go as a community. They see themselves in us.”
Community member Cleophus Bradley with the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance echoes that sentiment. “Having an NPO relationship is a plus. It helps the public to have that ready-made contact. It doesn’t require a 911 call for us to get a response. It can be as simple as a barking dog or suspicious person,” he said. NPO Balogun works with citizens and the business community, making himself available to help with quality of life complaints. “He puts a face on the Detroit Police Department,” Mr. Bradley said.
NPO Balogun enjoys building those relationships saying, “When I’m helping someone like a senior citizen, that’s my passion.”
NPO Tania Anding
NPO Douglas Nichols
NPO Michael Crowder
NPO Robert Barber
NPO Samuel Balogun