Early in the Saline City Council meeting Monday night, Police Chief Larry Hrinik came forward to present his quarterly progress report for the Saline Police Department. He summarized details that can also be found in the City Council-agendas section of Documents-on-Demand on the City of Saline website. He also answered questions from Council members.
In December 2015 Jon Hess, former Kent County Undersheriff, reported to City Council on his review of the Saline Police Department (SPD). In his report, he noted communication problems and he recommended a policy and procedures update. Hrinik chose to use the consulting firm Lexipol for the updates.
Lexipol offers a collection of boilerplate policies that can be customized for each local municipality. They also provide daily training modules for the officers.
Hrinik announced that all 155 policies have been received, read and adapted for Saline. Of these, 109 have been read and acknowledged by every SPD employee. Reviewing the policies took each SPD employee about 21 hours of on-duty time.
As of now, all of the remaining polices have been issued and the expectation is that all employees will read and acknowledge them by the end of this month. Next month the daily trainings will begin.
Regarding communication, Hrinik noted the number and frequency of meetings.
“We certainly do our roll-call meetings every day, shift meetings and we also have regular staff meetings on a monthly basis.”
He described various audits that have been done within the department. These included an audit of ammunition and of aerosol weapons this past quarter.
Regarding additional training, he said that officers are continuing to use monthly PoliceOne online training. He noted that Sgt. Andy Hartwig graduated from the School of Police Staff and Command, that Sgt. Magg is attending the Saline Leadership Institute and several officers attended a legal update class.
An upgrade of the dispatch center, which was started last year is “97 percent done.” Hrinik also said that the glass barrier installed last week has already proven useful in shutting out noise when the lobby area gets full of talkative people.
Specific events in which SPD participated in the past quarter included the ribbon cutting for Michigan Avenue, the Christmas Parade and the Shop with a Hero program sponsored by Meijer.
When Hrinik offered to answer questions, Council member Janet Dillon took up the challenge with gusto, addressing about 10 questions to the chief. Council member Dean Girbach asked a few more.
“It seems like there’s still some communication issues,” Dillon said. “Have you guys looked at changing any of the ways you’re doing things?”
She did not wait for an answer on this one, seemingly hesitant to bring up names and controversies. When City Manager Todd Campbell later asked her to elaborate she said “you are getting officers that are still complaining,” and “there are issues with the officers saying that the information is not being disseminated to them.”
Further elaborating, Dillon said, “we sort of get the same kind of language with each quarterly report, and I just wanted to know if that style had changed. I know there’s been some concerns that maybe a different method would be used.”
Girbach was concerned about how the internal audits were done and suggested that perhaps an independent checker, such as Plante Moran, would assure accuracy. Hrinik said that that could be done, but could be costly.
Looking at numbers provided by Hrinik, Girbach noted that there seemed to be a big increase in patrolling city parks, over three times the previous year. Hrinik said enforcement in the parks was stepped up as a result of citizen complaints about after-hours use.
Mayor Brian Marl told would-be offenders who might be “utilizing our parks after hours for indecent and illegal behavior” that their behavior “will not be tolerated.”
Jon Hess, the man who earlier evaluated the department, is doing a follow up review of the SPD that will be presented and discussed later this year.