Engagement with community members is crucial in being transparent as a police organization. The department has taken the right step. The Meridian township police department has been a part of the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation program since 2016.
This voluntary program helps to maintain standards to represent current professional law enforcement practices as well as increase effectiveness and efficiency in serving the community.
The MTPD joined to make sure the department was doing things correctly said Police captain Rick Grillo who has been with the department for over 15 years.
“[The accreditation} shows that we have a pact with the community,” he said.
The department reached full accreditation status in February of 2020. Initiatives to become more transparent also took place. For example, the department now has a transparency section on its website. The section of the website lists accreditation status, as well as policies and procedures.
Another outreach effort is the community policing model. Meridian Township officers are assigned five to seven neighborhoods as a liaison to their respective communities.
“There is constant dialogue with the community,” said Grillo.
Spartan Newsroom reporter Samuel Blatchford spoke with Rick Garillo about the different ways the MTPD is engaging with the community.
Samuel Blatchford: Are there any upcoming events you are having with the department and Meridian township? Outreach?
Rick Grillo: Because of the pandemic it’s kinda difficult to have those types of things right now with the outbreak of omicron, it really made it difficult. We had to really lock things down tighter here. As we look forward going into the spring as this starts to wain a bit. We will likely have another community leaders meeting where we all get together. We’ve been doing those digitally for the past year and a half. We’d like to get those back in person, but understanding that’s not something that can be done very easily and very safely. We will probably continue up until the summer with our digital meetings.
Blatchford: How many community leaders are there in Meridian Township?
Grillo: There’s over 100 neighborhoods, so we have roughly 100 neighborhood leaders. Each one of those neighborhoods we’ve reached out to. This has been established for a long time. As somebody resigns from that position, the neighborhoods usually elect somebody else to be that liaison for us. So there are quite a few and when we have our neighborhood leaders meetings there will be 50 … 60 people there at those meetings.
Blatchford: So they bring up issues in their community and how the department can solve them? How does it usually work?
Grillo: That’s exactly it. Usually, the way it works is when we sit down we have a guest speaker that talks about something we feel would be interesting to them that is happening in the community. Once we finish with that each one of the participants in the meeting has an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell us what neighborhood they’re from and tell us what concerns they have and what’s going on. It’s just kind of an open dialogue we share with them. A lot of our officers come to [the meetings], as well as the chief of police and the lieutenant.
Blatchford: To get a sense of what topics are talked about, what did you guys do in the past?
Grillo: So we have had the township manager come in, we’ve had the assistant manager come in. They talk about things that are happening, For instance, the roadways, there’s gonna be a lot of construction in Meridian township coming up. So in the past, we have had them come and talk about things that are going on with the roadways. We have had people come in and give presentations about how our community alerts work and how you can get signed up for those. Those types of things, things that we think would be interesting to the community and could be beneficial. That they can bring back to the people in their neighborhoods and show them how to do these things.