Albion residents voiced aggravation and concern with the city’s department of public safety at Monday’s City Council meeting, but the head of the department said the complaints come down to a lack of information and resources.
Lonnie Brewer, president of the nonprofit Double Vision Center at 115 S. Superior St., said his organization is being threatened and intimidated by a city police officer when it holds late-night fundraising cabarets.
Brewer said on April 30 an officer showed a hostile attitude to pedestrians and vehicles in the nearby health center parking lot. Brewer said the officer has threatened to take him and/or his guests to jail without just cause for an arrest.
Chief of Public Safety Eric Miller said it was the first he’s heard of the complaint, and he was “surprised” considering the positive relationship his department has with Double Vision.
Miller said he takes residents’ complaints “very seriously and will look into it,” but it’s not uncommon for officers to keep an eye on large groups of people in the business district.
“We’ve had in the past organizations or people renting halls that will have a DJ or rap parties and … we’ve had problems with fights and trash in the street and we’ve even had shots fired in the area,” he said.
Brewer said Double Vision does not condone “violence or illegal activities,” and the cabarets involve music and games to help raise money for the community center.
Mitchell Galant, a 26-year-old Albion native, said public safety needs more on-site officers to respond to emergencies. Galant said no one has been at the department headquarters the past few times he’s rushed there for assistance.
“There needs to be people around here that if someone is in fear of their life they can run into the police office right then and there because that’s your first instincts,” he said.
Miller said he understands Gallant’s concern and he wishes the department had a larger budget and more resources to serve the public.
“We at least have a lobby open, you push the button and it’s an automatic connection to dispatch,” he said.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on May 2, 2011