by ANDREW NEAL
Last Friday Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide sat down with Deputy Chief Mark Coil for Straight Talk – their monthly video update on Shelby TV. Chief Shelide clarified and elaborated on his thoughts with the Gazette in a later interview.
On the show, the two discussed department award recipients, a new court house, the four pillars of excellence, and Shelby’s new tactical response unit. Also on the docket was Trump, Obama, police bias, and medical marijuana.
According to Shelide, the new President’s support for law enforcement is strong, “a total contrast from the person who was in the office the last eight years.”
Deputy Chief Coil agreed, “[Trump is] openly supportive of our needs,” going on to say, “he is a great advocate. I’m excited to see what the future brings, but I truly believe that we have a voice, we have his ear, and I think good things are coming.”
President Trump has gone on record saying we need to bring back ‘stop and frisk.’ Does the Chief support this proposal?
“Once again, look at the data from NYC. The data doesn’t lie. Homicides, robberies, shootings, at record all time lows during stop and frisk… stop and frisk ruled illegal, and the crime rate soars.”
Chief Shelide said the former President’s anti-police rhetoric culminated in 2016 with the officer ambushes in Dallas, Baton Rogue, and other places, adding “I do think that he has blood on his hands.”
The Gazette asked for clarification on this statement. Chief Shelide expressed his frustration with Obama’s comments about police, saying they “set policing back a long time.” He added, “I don’t think the former President is 100% responsible. I think his rhetoric led up to what’s going on right now.”
On the issue of police bias, Shelide and Coil agreed that there is no bias whatsoever. In Coil’s 26 years of experience and Shelide’s 30, both said they have never worked with an officer who showed bias.
“I have never worked with anyone who went out looking to hurt, harm, or target minorities at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” said the Chief.
More people than ever are filming their encounters with law enforcement, which Chief Shelide says is a problem.
“FBI Director, Mr. James Comey has called it the Ferguson effect. I have also heard the term the Youtube effect. Since Ferguson, the homicide rate went up 17% in the 50 largest cities in the United States and the second year homicide went up 21% in the 50 largest cities. This is after homicide and violent crime rates falling for the last 25 years. This is not an anomaly. Officers don’t want to end up on YouTube and lose their job if they make a bad decision. They don’t want to end up on the 6 o’clock news.”
“There are 2.5 million prisoners in the United States prison system. A large % are violent offenders. We have an extremely difficult job to do. Sometimes what we are required to do isn’t pretty. People are being taught/ trained by the national media to hate the police. An entire generation of cop haters have been created in the last few years of the former president’s tenure. This won’t change any time soon. Our nation’s heroes have been vilified and villainized by anarchists. When I read that the leaders of the black lives matter movement were invited to the white house to meet with the former president, I knew what law enforcement was up against. When I read that the former president’s administration sent representatives to Ferguson for the funeral of the violent felon who attacked the officer, I knew what law enforcement was up against. Thankfully, we aren’t faced with these problems in Shelby Township as we reside and work in a law and order community.”
Shelide does not necessarily agree that officers should have body cameras. He says traffic stops are already recorded, and all patrol cars have dash cameras and the vast majority of the community loves and support the department.
“I have never had one resident or elected official ask or request body cameras for our officers. Not one! This tells me plenty. The state might mandate body cameras one day. If they do, they will have to fund them. When that happens, we will follow the law.”
Chief Shelide quoted the Deputy Chief – “This is not about medical marijuana. This is about people wanting to get high.”
Deputy Chief Coil explained that while a small portion of people use marijuana for medicinal purposes, in an effort to enhance their quality of life, the vast majority use the laws as “the legalization of a lifestyle.” He believes that if people want to use the drug to get high, they should just be honest and say so.
In the Straight Talk video, Chief Shelide said, “I believe marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to heavier drug use which causes carnage in our country and our communities.”
When later asked to elaborate, he cited his years of experience on the force dealing with drug addicts on a regular basis, saying, “a very small percentage of people go right from nothing into using heroin without starting with marijuana first.”
Chief Shelide acknowledged that alcohol is also a gateway drug and when used irresponsibly can cause great harm, “but it’s legal” he added.
Is marijuana more detrimental than alcohol? He said “yes.”
Dr. Elizabeth Bulat is the Medical Director at the Henry Ford Maplegrove Center and specializes in substance abuse and addiction. She told the Gazette that marijuana can certainly be an aspect in an addict’s staging progression, but there are many other factors that contribute to addiction.
“Both alcohol and cannabis are key players in a long standing existing gateway theory. The progression of staging from beer/wine, tobacco/hard liquor, cannabis, and other illicit drugs has been well known in the literature. There are a number of other potential mechanisms, including access to substances, and likelihood of engaging in risk-taking behavior.”
She added, “Any mood altering substances have the potential for addiction that can be detrimental to both mental and physical health.”
A study from The National Institute on Drug Abuse, forwarded to the Gazette by the Chief, clarifies this point further. The study shows findings that are “consistent with the idea of marijuana as a ‘gateway drug.’ However, the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances. Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances.”
In the last several years, Michigan’s narcotics overdose death rate has reached record levels. Medical professionals and law enforcement officers are all looking to the root causes of addiction for an explanation.
Hope Not Handcuffs
A new initiative that began on Feb. 1 allows people battling addiction to walk into any Macomb County police station to get help for treatment. Instead of arresting the addict, police will work with treatment centers and Families Against Narcotics to get them the help they need.
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