A day in the life of a Detroit area police officer is one of the documentary films that the Visionalist crew has always wanted to produce.  A night in the life… not so much.

Call it ‘respect from a distance’, which can easily be translated into ‘fear for our lives’ on the mean streets we’ve all come to appreciate via slanted national newscasts, derogatory t-shirts and one-sided films.

Still, Officer Badoun Bazzi, a six year veteran of the Dearborn Police Force assured us that the stereotype is, for the most part, just that—especially in his jurisdiction, where more than two hundred police officers (of which 124, or 69%, represent the patrol division) equipped with state-of-the-art equipment maintain a close relationship with the people of Dearborn, and providing full service to the community.  A busy Saturday night in his patrol car, he assured us, would be ‘interesting’, but nothing to fear.

So we jumped at the chance.  In fact, Officer Bazzi, an American of Lebanese descent, proved to us over the course of the next few hours, the depth to which both his heritage—he is fluent in Arabic—and his ‘bedside manner’ helped to make the Dearborn force one of the State’s most respected in the nation, particularly when it comes to race relationships.  This is a tremendous leap forward for Dearborn, which, if you’ll recall, once bore a national stigma for its de facto racial segregation under Mayor Orville L. Hubbard, whose 36 year tenure ended in 1978.

Dearborn, which now boasts an Arab American population of nearly fifty percent, benefits immeasurably by the presence of such officers as Bazzi, willing to work crazy hours and lonely shifts to keep his home city prosperous and safe.  At twenty-six, Bazzi has lived most of his life here, and asked whether he would consider working in any other jurisdiction he’s quick to reply, “Never’.

In retrospect, police work would not have seemed to be the sort of work he’d have pursued.  An only child, son of a Bint Jebail native, former Ford worker and ex-restaurateur, Bazzi’s first collegiate interests were in science, and he’s since gone on to pursue a business degree.  Still, his tenure with the police department has changed him spiritually, emotionally and ‘realistically’ as he gains appreciation for the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers all over the world.  Would he change jobs at this point?  “No way,” he claims.

And he’s suited for it: The tall, solidly-built looks like he could hold his own against Dearborn’s most recalcitrant offenders, but ‘in the field’ displays a degree of patience that is remarkable.  In the course of the shift, we watched as Corporal Officer Bazzi defused any number of situations that a less patient man might have seen escalate.  That included some well-lubricated bar patrons, routine traffic stops, and a case of hit-and-run where he had to approach a darkened, eerie looking house on Dearborn’s south end where he believed the perpetrator had holed up.

His mother, from beautiful Jwaya in Lebanon’s south, worries about her son’s choice from time to time—recall, Dearborn Heights Officer Jason Makowski, 32, was killed in the line of duty in 2006—but remains proud that her son has not only chosen this selfless, and often thankless line of work, but excels in it.

As his father, and as all of us, from Dearborn and beyond, should be.  These are Detroit’s heroes, the men and women who will ultimately restore our area’s national reputation.


Russell Ebeid

Flavors or the Arab World December 2nd at the Rock Financial Shwplace,
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