Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Watchdog" vs Police Chief and Supervisor

Hi All,
Why is Bloomfield Township so hesitant about making changes and with providing open and transparent government in all departments? Why should some details of the operations of the government be a mystery that only some are privileged to know?  Why is FOIA sometimes necessary to gain the truth about how the taxpayer's money is used? Why should one need to hire an attorney to protect their basic rights? What might happen if the details of the operation of the township are let out of the box?  Hopefully, not much.  However, keeping the lid on the details of government spending and communications stirs the thoughts of doubt and concern.

Has a "watchdog" in the community barked loud enough to arouse the public's  interests?  Has the watchdog annoyed the government's past practices enough to have them attempt to muzzle or yank the leash of the watchdog? The watchdog's "behavior in the past" is pointing out and asking for changes at the Township.  Some see it as demanding.  Whichever way one wants to see it, this township government has continued to fail to communicate on many important issues concerning this community down to even the basic courtesy of putting their meeting notices on their own website where the public could easily find it.  The times have changed and posting notices or sending media notices of current events only in print newspapers will not satisfy the real needs of the community's right to know all the happenings of their township government.  Tossing a few treats of changes only satisfies the watchdog for a while. Putting the treats in different locations is a game that is getting old.   Being treated right and fair will gain the old saying of man's best friend.  This township government has a watchdog.....and... is still barking.

Now to the story:
Did you know that two classes are offered by the police department? 
No?  Not surprising as they are not listed on the township website.  
Citizens' Police Academy and Pistol Safety/Concealed Weapons Permit

The watchdog read a newspaper article in Nov./Dec of 2011 that gave a telephone number and an email address to sign up or get more information.  The contact information was the Township Police Community Liaison Officer.  Apparently, only that officer took sign ups and gave out information.

The watchdog attempted to sign up and get more information.  Neither was successful.  No starting date or time was known by the police department until a sufficient number of people signed up.

However, people can't sign up if they don't know the class exists or when it will be held.  Attempts by the watchdog to get the information on the township website failed.  

A pistol safety/concealed weapons permit class had been given in the past at the township, and the watchdog wanted to sign up for the next offering. However, nothing was on the website about either class.

Instead of getting detailed information about the classes or even one phone call from the community liaison officer or the police chief,  the watchdog received the response (to the request to sign up for 2 classes) in an official letter in the mail from the Chief of Police with the following as the only words in the message: 
"Based upon your behavior in the past, I do not believe it is in the township's best interest to allow you to attend either class."

I am... that watchdog that received the letter from Kirt Bowden, Bloomfield Township Police Chief.
What "past behavior"?  They will not "allow' me to attend?  The township personnel see me regularly at various meetings and functions.  My behavior is writing blogs and attending meetings.  Shall I assume that they may not have liked some of my comments or writings?

However,  I have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press without interference from my government.  As a citizen and a member of this community, I also have the right to attend those classes as they were published in a local paper as open to the public.

Shocked by the content of that letter, I contacted the township supervisor, Leo Savoie. I  shared the short details of the letter from the police chief.   The supervisor already knew about it.  He supported the police chief and the letter.  I stated that I felt that was discrimination and that I wanted to attend both classes.

The supervisor left me a telephone voice message stating that if I wished to be reconsidered as an attendee of those classes, I must attend a meeting with him, the police chief and several other police officers.  WHY?  I thought about the voice message and saved it. I thought, wait until after the holidays and maybe they will change their mind...after all, isn't this discrimination?   

After I replied weeks later and the answer was still NO, I said IF I would attend their meeting, I would want to bring someone, maybe an attorney.  Then the requirements to the meeting changed to: I had to give a written request for a formal meeting, stating who would be in attendance...otherwise, I could come to an informal meeting alone.

After a lengthy conversation with the supervisor,  I decided I would not meet with them. 
  • I didn't want to participate in this whole game/charade that the supervisor and police chief  were producing. The classes were not worth the drama.  The individual rights issue is another thing.
  • Is this a variety of harassment and intimidation and a violation of individual rights ? I think, yes.
  • Everyone has a right to freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment:  speech, press, assembly, petition and religion.......without interference from government. 
  • I will continue to blog and comment at township meetings and happenings.  Stay tuned.
Bottom Line:
Bloomfield Township tax dollars are directly or indirectly used to provide officers, buildings, equipment, etc. to conduct these classes for free (except $200 for pistol class range fees).   Citizens in the surrounding communities that pay no taxes to the township were permitted to sign up.

Anyone signing up wants to learn more about the duties of the police, how to handle a weapon safely and to earn the right to a carry/concealed weapons permit.

IF anyone decides to blog during or after an experience or class, that is their right......without government interference.

Personally, I was expecting to have a good experience from the classes....not this.  We'll never know.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised at the decisions both decent men have adhered to over the last month or so to demand a meeting with me before possibly admitting me to 2 township classes.  No conditions were placed on other people.  Their actions violated my rights.

Main questions: 
  • Do the rest of the trustees know the actions taken by the police chief and the supervisor?   
  • They have said nothing.  
  • Does township attorney Bill Hampton know about this issue?  
  • He has said nothing. 
  • Would they/ or do they support the position of the police chief and supervisor in this case, to deny access to township offered classes for "behavior in the past" ....fully knowing that there is no criminal behavior ever? The supervisor's telephone conversations with me all centered on my meeting comments and blogs and the reactions to them by the township personnel.
  • Has anyone else been denied access to a public township class/function/meeting?
  • Does this kind of "service" from township employees happen to others, but go unreported? Silence should not be an option.  Speak up.
The Citizens' Police Academy Class starts tonight, Jan. 26.  NO information about the Citizens' Police Academy is on the township website ( except it was reported to me that it is on Facebook...which I don't do).

Nothing is mentioned on the township website about a gun safety/concealed weapon class, but there is a class being offered.  Is that on Facebook?   How many township people visit the Township Police Facebook page and what age groups?

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