Dearborn Police moving in the right direction
| Thursday, 09.15.2016, 11:15 PM

Newly recruited ordinance officer Amal Chammout.

Three Arab American cops and two ordinance officers, including a woman who wears the hijab, were sworn into the Dearborn Police Department last month. 

It is a step in the right direction for the embattled force, which has been facing a series of controversies for almost a year.

In December 2015 and January 2016, Dearborn officers shot two unarmed African Americans. 

The shootings brought protests to the department's doorstep. 

In April, The Arab American News reported that four Arab American cops quit the force; two of them said they faced bullying by superiors and colleagues.

Despite repeated attempts by The AANews, the department did not comment on this matter or investigate the alleged bullying. City leaders have yet to address this issue.

The departures undermined efforts to make the overwhelmingly White department reflective of the diversity of the neighborhoods.

Rubbing salt in the wound were the revelations of a survey obtained by The AANews, where several officers voiced objections to Chief Ron Haddad's hiring practices.

A respondent to the survey accused Haddad of lowering the department's standards in order to increase diversity on the force.

Last month's diverse hires prove that the leadership is not succumbing to internal pressure.

We urge the new recruits to strengthen their resolve and not give up to possible intimidation or unwelcoming attitudes. Introducing diversity can be a difficult process. Arab Americans need to earn a seat on the table; it will not be easily handed to them.

However, we cannot downplay the effects of bullying at the workplace. Muslim American Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui died after he was humiliated by a drill sergeant in March. His family is rejecting the findings of the investigation, which ruled his death as a suicide.

Chief Haddad must step in to ensure a friendly work environment where everyone is treated equally.

There is no doubt that police officers perform a necessary job for society. They put their lives at risk with every traffic stop. Their work is appreciated.

But the deaths of Kevin Matthew and Janet Wilson at the hands of Dearborn officers have placed the Police Department at the heart of the ongoing national conversation about police tactics and some officers' reckless (or racist) willingness to pull the trigger.

We know little about the circumstances of the shootings. While the investigations are being not handled by Dearborn Police, the department has released nothing about the incidents. Trust cannot be earned in the absence of transparency.

Furthermore, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is yet to announce charges or lack thereof in either incident. We are approaching the one year mark for Matthew's death. It is inconceivable that the investigation is taking that long.

For the sake of the victims' families, the Police Department and the entire community, these cases need to come to a closure.

We welcome and encourage diversity in the Dearborn Police Department. 

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