University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Beyond 9/11: Homeland Security and Community Policing in Dearborn, Michigan

David Thacher, Ford School of Public Policy and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Professor Thacher received CLOSUP funding for this project to investigate the relationship between homeland security and police-community relations by analyzing the experiences of the Dearbon, Michigan Police Department (DPD).

After a period of widespread community criticism in the mid-1990's, the DPD began to develop several routines, organizational structures, and other innovations designed to improve police-community relations. By most accounts, those efforts helped the Department to regain its legitimacy in the local community. But that achievement threatened to unravel after September 11 as homeland security became a salient issue in Dearborn, which involuntarily found itself in the national spotlight due to its large Arab-American population. Drawing on observations and in-depth interviews, this project will analyze how the pressures associated with the DPD's new homeland security role placed the Department's community policing efforts under stress and forced the city to revisit the issue of police legitimacy once again. In the process, this research will describe the shape that homeland security and community policing have begun to take in Dearborn since September 11. Those findings will illuminate the challenges that homeland security raises for local governments, as well as the strategies developed by one police department to respond to those challenges.  | 
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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy