Residents are frustrated, and some even outraged, following the shooting death of a homeless man in Saginaw.
And now some people are blaming a lack of diversity amongst the public safety departments.
One of the complaints TV5 has been hearing a lot while covering the Milton Hall case is the lack of minority and female police officers in Saginaw. Most of the officers involved in the Hall shooting were white.
Officers opened fire on Hall on July 1, who they said was armed with a knife. The six officers fired 46 rounds at Hall, striking him more than 10 times.
>>Video of Hall's shooting is viewable above - TV5 warns viewers, however, that the video is graphic in nature<<
Many are asking why the department's staffing doesn't reflect the makeup of the city's population. That question came up most recently at a town hall meeting last Thursday evening.
Now one of the newest Saginaw City Council members is doing more than just complaining about a possible lack of diversity, he's doing something about it.
Councilman Norman Braddock is part of the newly-formed Public Safety Personnel Committee. The purpose will be to make recommendations to the mayor, City Council and city manager regarding the recruitment, hiring and retention of minorities and women for future public safety positions in the city of Saginaw.
Braddock told TV5 in a phone conversation that diversity at the city's police department has changed over the last six years.
"You didn't have ample minority representation at the scene when it happened," said Braddock.
TV5's Jonathan Lowe pushed Braddock on that point, asking, "It's almost like saying that the white officers aren't capable of handling a black public safety issue." Braddock responded, stating, "I think once you find out who the officers are and where they're from, and whether or not they've been around black people before, you'll understand what I'm talking about."
One of the panelists at the meeting, who at one time served as the city's labor relations director, explained why that may have changed.
"In the past, there were funds within the budgetary situations for police and fire to do recruiting for the needed filling of vacancies, (such as) the hiring of minorities, African-Americans, Hispanics and females," said the former city labor relations director. "As you know, over time, those type of funds for training and development dwindled, reduced to almost nothing."
Update: In an email sent to WNEM TV5 late Thursday, former Saginaw police chief Gerald H. Cliff denies ever speaking to Braddock one-on-one.
He says the issue of diversity only came up when the two were at a public meeting and city officials were asked to speak.
In the email, Cliff writes, "There was no conversation between us. He has never, either during his campaign, or since his election, approached me as the chief of police, to attempt to ascertain the needs of the department, the problems we face, our concerns or anything else pertaining to the provision of public safety..."
Cliff added that under his leadership, the Saginaw Police Department did everything legally possible to improve the diversity of the police force.
Copyright WNEM 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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