Those of us from Detroit often think we are the only place in the world where our public officials do not play by the rules, or at least take advantage of their office.
Sure we have our fill of stories to share about public officials in Detroit, Wayne County, Ecorse and elsewhere and communities and schools in those same cities are in financial trouble, but so too are cities and schools in Illinois, Baltimore, Portland, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) and in many other states and cities where mayors, members of Congress, state legislators and governors have recently been indicted or investigated in one form or another.
In Detroit, we also are quick to celebrate our faults, instead of our victories. Just yesterday, by way of example, Detroit Tiger, Justin Verlander, a pitcher, was named the American League's Most Valuable Player (MVP). In Detroit and in Michigan we have a lot of MVPs that we fail to celebrate. We are just to quick to celebrate those that break the law or push the envelope as to what is ethical, more or barely legal.
Another MVP we are not hearing enough about, is Ron Haddad, the chief of police for Dearborn, Mich., just outside Detroit, and home to one of the largest Arab communities outside the Middle East. Chief Haddad was recently named one of Governing magazine's "Public Officials of the Year."
Chief Haddad, the city's and state's first Arab American police chief, developed trust in the community between his police force and those he promised to protect, through community-based policing. By getting to know his community and the people within it, Dearborn residents felt comfortable in engaging the police when there was a problem, or even a hint of a problem.
As a result of those efforts, crime in Dearborn, Mich. is down 7 percent. At a time when we are all on edge, and the New York Police Department foiled yet another terrorism plot, knowing your community and feeling comfortable with the police are vital to protecting each other. Yet Haddad has taken it a step further and worked to enhance his community's relationships with the Department of Homeland Security, so there is a certain level of trust in working together, not just in protecting those in the City of Dearborn, but indeed, the entire nation.
Everyday in the City of Detroit and around its surrounding suburbs, MVPs exist, who ignore the headlines to build a stronger community. Everyone has a great story to share about how they are making a significant contribution to the community, to their profession and to their sport. If you know of other MVPs from Detroit, let's talk about them and share their story, and let us start celebrating those that are making the difference. That way we can show the world what Detroit is truly about.