WSGW is presenting this exact copy of a City of Saginaw release to insure that no points are left out.
SAGINAW, MI – In the wake of recent tragic incidents involving police use of
force and other issues, the legitimacy of the police has been questioned in many
communities. The City of Saginaw understands the need for community involvement in policing
and the need to review procedures and police interaction with citizens.
Racism has eroded trust and goodwill throughout our nation. However, we believe the future
of policing in the City of Saginaw is ripe with potential. Now more than ever, our policing must
continue to place an even greater emphasis on police-community partnerships, and a strong
focus on equity, transparency, and accountability.
The focus of the Saginaw Police Department has been about building personal relationships,
being proactive in addressing community concerns and working with partners to innovate new
approaches to police work. The City of Saginaw remains committed to diligently addressing how
we handle citizens and taking steps to improve community relations. These steps include
working with Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority to develop training on dealing
with individuals who are mentally ill, increased availability of less lethal equipment, as well as the
purchase and implementation of body cameras for all road patrol officers. The police department
now has School Resource Officers in local schools and Victim Services Advocates to better
serve the citizens of Saginaw. The department has also established a partnership with the
Saginaw Branch NAACP to produce public information videos to educate youth on how to
communicate with the police. The SPD conducts Implicit Bias training on a regular basis and is
the site for monthly prayer meetings for local clergy.
Other steps include the development of the Saginaw ALPACT committee, which is comprised
of leaders and members of the community, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and
leaders from the law enforcement community. This committee meets bi-monthly to examine
issues affecting police and community relations to ensure equitable enforcement of laws
including: racial profiling, police discretion, use of force, recruitment and training, citizen
complaint processes, community partnering, and police leadership.
Several leaders and organizations have contacted the city with suggested changes that
should be implemented by the Saginaw Police Department. The Saginaw Police Department
maintains a use of force policy that is consistent with current national and legal standards. It is
periodically reviewed by SPD command staff and the city attorney to ensure it remains in proper
form. The policy takes into consideration a use of force continuum developed by the National
Institute of Justice and contains guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting
subject in a given situation. SPD Officers receive consistent training and understand that they
are only allowed to use a level of force that is objectively reasonable to bring an incident under
control. Actions such as those taken by the officers in Minneapolis are not contemplated by any
policy of the Saginaw Police Department.
City Manager Tim Morales commented, “I am very proud of our police department and their
efforts over the past few years to improve relations in our community. We have already
implemented several policies and procedures to improve community interaction. But when
tragedies occur like what recently happened in Minneapolis, it challenges all of us to dig deeper
and review our practices and implement even greater changes.”
The Saginaw Police Department is poised to launch new or expanded initiatives focused on
creating transparency and implementing solutions that produce meaningful results in the
City officials are considering the implementation of a Citizen Review Board. The make-up
and functions of the board are still in the developmental stage, but would likely include
developing strategies for bettering community and police interactions and would consist of a wide
range of members from the community. The city will review the best examples throughout the
country and what makes them successful so that anything developed in Saginaw may be of the
Saginaw Police Chief Bob Ruth commented on the board, “We want to involve community
leaders from diverse backgrounds. This will take some time and a lot of conversations. But we’ve
heard the requests for a citizen review board and we’re confident Saginaw will have one we can
be proud of.”
Through these efforts, the City hopes to develop recommendations and best practices
designed to enhance the bonds of trust between law enforcement and citizens; and to present
and recommend implementation strategies to law enforcement and community groups.
Police Chief Bob Ruth commented on the needed discussion, ““We are dedicated to helping
people,” Ruth said. “This is a compassionate response to a nationwide problem. Many of the
requested changes are already in place in our department. But we are always willing to review
our policies and address concerns from the community.”
This approach requires constant flexibility to respond to all emerging issues with proactive
problem-solving solutions that involve the community as well as police officers.
“We have an ongoing commitment to reevaluate our policies and programs, and introduce
new initiatives as needed,” Ruth said. “We know Saginaw is a special place with unique needs,
and we want to be responsive to our community.”