Detroit police on the lookout — for recruits

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Detroit — With a painted face and whooshing down an inflatable slide, Jamison Lopez doesn’t look like the future of the Detroit Police Department.

But looks can be deceiving.

Jamison, 7, insists he will be a police officer one day. Unless he becomes the president of the United States.

“They help people,” he said about law enforcement. “They keep you out of trouble.”

The Detroit youngster attended a job fair held by the Detroit police Saturday and, while he’s still a few years too young, his mother isn’t. Linda Lopez said she was hoping to find some type of civilian position with the department.

The Lopezes were among several dozen people milling about the campus and parking lot of Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

They were greeted by an equal number of police employees representing various agency departments. Among them were detectives, mounted patrol, the K-9 unit and special victims unit.

Detroit police Lt. Richard Firsdon hands out health screening forms.

Sgt. Deanna Wilson of the harbormaster unit told visitors the stunning story of a man who tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Ambassador Bridge.

The man survived and then clambered upon a large chunk of ice floating down the Detroit River. Someone called the police and the harbormaster, who patrols the city’s waterways, retrieved the man from his floating refuge.

“I love doing it,” Wilson said about her job. “I love being on the water.”

The Detroit Police Department’s Underwater Recovery Team vehicle was on display  at Career Day.

A nearby exhibit showed some of the things plucked from the river by the police underwater search unit. They included a rifle, a pistol, an old-western six-shooter, and a knife with a six-inch blade.

The police also showed off their various vehicles including the bomb squad truck, mobile command center and special response team unit.

If visitors had a license, they were allowed to drive a police scout car and flash the emergency lights.

Detroit Police Department’s Meah Tweh, left, employee services consultant II, assists Zoette Beard during the Detroit Police Department’s Career Day at Detroit Police Department Public Safety Headquarters.

All of this was designed to draw recruits. Visitors signed up to take written and agility tests.

The pay begins at $20 an hour while in the police academy and grows to $30 an hour over five years, said the police.

If Jamison doesn’t become president and works for the Detroit PD, it probably won’t be in the mounted patrol.

Among the units represented Saturday was an officer with the patrol and his horse. But Jamison was leery of getting too close to them.

“They bite,” he said.

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People wait for their interviews during Detroit Police Department Career Day.