A New Initiative for Canton Township
The Canton Coalition for Inclusive Communities began in 2008 as an initiative of the Canton Police Department to team up with local non-profits, such as the Michigan Anti-Defamation League and the Hindu Temple of Canton, and respond to hate crimes and bias motivated incidents. In addition, the group connects with victims as well as providing ongoing support and understanding. Eva Davis, director of the Canton Public Library, has been the co-chair for 10 years along with Captain Joseph Bialy.
A Changing Focus
Around six years ago, the CCIC adopted a more proactive focus. The group shifted to provide a united front against hate and worked to promote inclusivity.
Various events and initiatives developed from this approach include the “National Night Out” gatherings, promoting police-community partnerships, as well as “Know Your Neighbor” and “Transpire” events, which foster understanding and acceptance of all groups and nationalities in Canton. The CCIC meets quarterly to plan events and invite groups to participate.
Assisting in Police Transparency
Most recently, the CCIC has collaborated with the Canton Police Department to become a part of the Police Transparency and Guidance Subcommittee. This committee, established in 2021 by Canton Police Chief Chad Baugh with a Community Policing Innovations grant through the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, provides access to law enforcement attorney Brett Naumcheff.
Consisting of five members of the CCIC, the committee reviews citizen complaints of use of force or racial bias with the aid of patrol car and bodycam footage and other reports. They then make recommendations, which are followed up by Chief Baugh, thereby aiding in police training. This ongoing process not only promotes better policing, but strengthens the community by ensuring better police and citizen relations.
Looking to the Future
At this point, the CCIC will continue their current approach and reassess in a few years to see if their "new" outward, educational focus is working. Davis feels that the CCIC has been a success and she is happy to be a part of it, adding, “My time on the CCIC has shown me how truly collaborative our community organizations are, particularly behind the scenes in ways that are not showy, but do a lot of heavy lifting to make Canton a diverse and welcoming township."
In regards to the future of the PTAG Subcommittee, Chief Baugh has just applied for an additional grant from the Community Policing Innovations Initiative of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan to provide additional funds for expert advice and training of the subcommittee members as they review citizen complaints and use-of-force occurrences over the next two years.
When asked about her experiences with this new initiative, Davis expressed favorable views, stating:
"Chairing the PTAG Subcommittee has been a real learning experience. Through the training provided by our Police Legal Advisor, Brett Naumcheff, I have gained an even greater respect for our police officers and the intense and continuing training they receive on de-escalation, risk assessment, and procedural justice. This is not to say that they are perfect; it is the openness of the Canton PD to innovations such as a subcommittee made up of citizens providing their perspectives on citizen complaints and use of force occurrences that epitomizes the department's dedication to continuous improvement in their interactions with the residents of Canton."