Friday, April 13, 2012

John Conyers at Hamtramck Swearing in of New Police and Fire Chiefs

U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. at City of Hamtramck swearing in of Police Chief Max Garbarino and Fire Chief Paul Wilks by Judge Paul Paruk.  This is the first time in the City's history two chiefs were sworn in at the same time.

Hamtramck Police Chief Max Garbrino and Hamtramck Fire Chief Paul Wilks
U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. and Hamtramck Police Chief Maxwell Garbrino
U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. and Hamtramck Fire Chief Paul Wilks
Former Hamtramck Police Chief Marek Kalinowski ceremoniously
handing over his badge to new Hamtramck Police Chief Maxwell Garbarino
U. S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. and
former Hamtramck Police Chief Marek Kalinowski

Hamtramck swears in new police, fire chiefs in packed ceremony

For what appears to be the first time in city history, Hamtramck’s new police chief and fire chief were sworn in together on Friday.

In front of a packed 31st District Courtroom at City Hall, which included family, friends, city officials and Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, Judge Paul Paruk asked police officer Max Garbarino and fire fighter Paul Wilk if they would honor a city that has seen much turmoil in the past two months.

Both men agreed, and to resounding applause, went from acting chiefs to serving chiefs.

“They’re all ready to get up and do what we gotta do to make things better,” said Wilk, looking at the city’s firefighters who were present at the swearing in.

The residents of Hamtramck have been taken aback in recent weeks by two high-profile crimes and revelations of the depth of the city’s financial stress.

On Feb. 28, friends Abreeya Brown and Ashley Conaway were kidnapped from Brown’s stepfather’s home on Andrus Street. The two were found March 25 in a shallow grave on Detroit’s west side. Five men, including Brian Lee, 25 and Brandon Cain, 26, have been charged with their murders.

On March 2, a man carjacked three women who were in town for a music festival and forced them to perform a sex act on him. Tonio Dace, 25, who was arrested after the carjacking, was charged with carjacking, kidnapping and sexual assault.

On March 7, the city council voted to fire City Manager Bill Cooper, after learning that city coffers were so bereft, city employees might not get paid. His successor, Erik Tungate, is facing personal legal troubles.

Garbarino, who is few weeks away from finishing a law degree, said the city’s financial situation is a source of concern. While trying to figure out how to manage possible funding issues, he said, they would put more emphasis on the city’s community policing program, in which residents help patrol and call in possible crimes.

But for a few minutes, Garbarino and Wilk were able to enjoy the time they spent with family and friends before resuming their jobs leading the city’s public safety. After receiving his chief’s badge from former chief Marek Kalinowski, Garbarino, 33, played with his son, while Wilk, 44, had photos taken with his fire crew.

“I’m trying not to cry,” said Donna Garbarino, who drove from Chesterfield Township to see her son become police chief. “Oh, I would have driven hours for this.”

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