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New Police Chief in Dearborn to be First Muslim to Lead Department

Detroit Free Press
Niraj Warikoo
Dec. 20, 2021

A veteran of the Dearborn Police department will be the city’s next police chief, Mayor-elect Abdullah Hammoud announced Monday.

Starting Jan. 1, Cmdr. Issa Shahin, who has served with Dearborn Police since 1998, will be the first Muslim to lead Dearborn’s Police department. And he is believed to be the first Muslim police chief in the history of Michigan, said local community advocates.

His appointment comes at a time when the city is seeing demographic changes and calls for more diversity in city departments. Hammoud was the first Muslim and first Arab American to be elected mayor of Dearborn.

Commander Issa Shahin of Dearborn Police was named on Dec. 20 by Dearborn Mayor-elect Abdullah Hammoud to be the next Police Chief of Dearborn. Shahin, who has served with Dearborn Police since 1998, will be the first Muslim to lead Dearborn’s police department.

Dearborn has one of the largest city police departments in Michigan, in part because of a city requirement approved by voters that it must have a certain minimum level of police officers. In addition to 110,000 residents, Dearborn, where the headquarters of Ford Motor Co. is located, has a daily influx of employees and shoppers that greatly increases the number of people in the city.

“Dearborn is a wonderfully diverse city whose residents have shared values and a desire for a safe and welcoming community,” Shahin wrote in his letter applying for the role as police chief. “Dearborn deserves a chief who is fully committed to honest, transparent, and meaningful involvement with all its communities.”

Hammoud, a state lawmaker who was elected to the mayor’s office last month, said in a statement announcing the appointment that “Shahin is the senior-most executive commander with a strong track record and good rapport within the department.”

“He’s committed to building a trusting relationship with residents and delivering equitable policing in a way to best meet today’s demands in community policing,” Hammoud said.”I am confident he will deliver the transparency and accountability residents expect while positioning our police officers for success.”

According to his biography, Shahin graduated cum laude from Eastern Michigan University in 1997 with a degree in political science and a master’s degree summa cum laude in homeland security and emergency management in 2016. He also attended an international studies program in Middle East and North African Studies at The American University in Cairo from 1995 to 1996 and the executive leadership program for police staff in 2016 at Eastern Michigan University.

Shahin said in his letter that he “firmly believes everyone’s voice matters.”

“… We will establish and embrace a culture of transparency and accountability to foster trust and legitimacy inside and outside the organization,” he wrote. “Moreover, the department can embrace needed police reforms while removing criminals from the streets – the concepts are not mutually exclusive. Providing equitable policing to all communities and concurrently remaining tough on crime is wholly achievable.”

Shahin worked as a police officer and corporal from 1998 to 2009, according to his resume. He served from 2009 to 2013 as a sergeant in the tactical patrol unit and an ATF Task Force officer, a lieutenant in critical incident and community support from 2013 to 2015, a captain in the investigative and patrol division from 2015 to 2019.

He then became the acting investigative division commander in 2019 and the commander of the investigative division since March. He said he solved all of the 12 homicides under his tenure.

Shahin also worked on outreach to the community on substance abuse programs and developed Dearborn’s religious head coverings policy “to protect the rights of Muslim women to wear a head covering while in the custody of the Dearborn Police Department,” he said on his resume.

Shahin is a member of the Islamic Society of North America and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

It’s unclear how many police chiefs in the U.S. are of the Muslim faith. Last year, Patterson, New Jersey, appointed its first Muslim police chief, reported NJ.com.

Chief of Police Ronald Haddad provides details on investigation of robbery and homicide happened on September 6 at the Dearborn Police Department in Dearborn, Thursday, September 12, 2019.

Shahin will replace current Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, who has led the department since 2008 after he had retired in 2007 from Detroit Police Department as a deputy chief.

Haddad, who is of Lebanese descent, was the first Arab-American to be police chief in Dearborn, which is about 47% Arab-American, according to 2019 Census data. Under his leadership, the department increased its diversity, hiring more Arab-American police officers.

Haddad and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly have said previously that police abuse and use-of-force incidents by police declined over the past decade under their leadership. But some high-profile cases involving police shooting deaths of Black suspects drew protests in recent years, and the department’s disproportionate rate of arrests of Blacks has drawn criticism.

Haddad began his career with the Detroit Police Department in 1973 and retired in January 2007 as deputy chief of the northwestern district.

Haddad could not be reached for comment Monday.

“Chief Haddad has served the city of Dearborn honorably for more than a decade, working hard to increase public safety and keep our neighborhoods and residents safe,” Hammoud said in a statement. “The city is thankful for his commitment to the job and his years of public service.”

Shahin said in a statement: “We’ve made progress in the department over the past several years, but there’s a lot of work to do to strengthen our relationship with residents and incorporate the latest policing practices to best serve the city.”

Dearborn is facing problems with reckless driving and like other cities, is concerned about an uptick in crimes over the past year.

“I look forward to working with the new mayor to address the concerns of residents in a meaningful way and tackle key issues such as reckless driving and mental health for residents and first-responders,” Shahin said.

Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, praised the appointment.

“He’s a very honest, very hard-working person,” Siblani said. “I trust him fully. I believe he’s going to do a very good job.”

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