In Detroit, we have some of the finest police officers who are very capable. We need to place them in a more effective, supportive position.
The issues surrounding the Detroit Police Department and its ineffectiveness to reduce crime have less to do with the officers and the resources we have and more about the management of the resources.
I applaud Mayor Dave Bing for recognizing that the Detroit Police Department needs to be reorganized. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to present my ideas to the mayor and Interim Chief of Police Chester Logan. However, I remain concerned that there are not sufficient strategies in place to reduce the number of crime victims in Detroit and change the perception that Detroit is not a safe city.
In my view, there are ten strategies to achieve the goal:
- Collect the data, analyze it properly and share it among DPD units, other law enforcement and the public.
- Reorganize the police department to include de-centralization and the appointment of a CFO to manage the city’s largest and most important portion of the General Fund budget.
- Take illegal guns off our streets as a primary duty of every police officer.
- Develop a plan to make neighborhoods safer – focus on the primary issues and end the DPD services we don’t perform well.
- Respond to police runs within six minutes of the 911 call – this is an expectation of every citizen.
- Embark on a relentless pursuit to enforce curfew and truancy among our youth who are the primary victims of crime.
- Increase the reserve corps to be used for special events and clerical duties.
- Operate a precinct building for every district (putting an end to virtual precincts), based on the defined seven City Council/Police Commission districts, staffed primarily by civilians who are properly trained while the sworn officers are on patrol.
Pursue parolee, probation and felony warrants to include authorizing every sworn officer with a scout car to make routine traffic stops which tend to lead to apprehension of criminals.
Utilize the Secondary Employment program that places off-duty officers in security roles for parades, sporting events, concerts, festivals and other non-emergency activities in order for the police chief to deploy on-duty officers in the neighborhoods.
Typically in good times, police departments expand and create specialized units such as Gang Squad. This action is justifiable when you have 5,500 police officers. But in our current financial environment, we have slightly more than 2,000 sworn police officers. We can no longer afford to have specialized units when times get tough because each unit requires administrative and supervisory staff. I support the de-centralization of the police department with all sworn officers serving as generalists.
I believe that every sworn officer with a badge and a gun should be assigned to our precincts and on patrol. The functions of Gang Squad, sworn dispatchers, and Tactical Mobile can be run out of the precincts as part of an overall crime reduction strategy based on the specific crime issues in each district.
Our homicide closure rate in Detroit is well below the national average. That is abysmal, and a key factor in our crime issues. The national average is 67% which is low in itself. The abysmal closure rate means that criminals likely remain on our streets. Commanders need to be held accountable for all crime in their district. Therefore, if the crime is not reduced and the homicide closure rate does not improve, personnel action should be undertaken.
We need to use technology and every resource at our disposal to increase the number of solved homicide cases.
Additionally, no major and even no medium-sized city police department in the nation has sworn police officers handling 911 dispatch. Civilians have stronger clerical skills, are paid 60% of what a sworn officer makes, and with proper training can handle urgent situations on dispatch. Currently, we have 42 sworn police officers working in dispatch.
Detroit can be a thriving city. But until we have a viable crime reduction strategy that includes the areas I have shared, our Detroit will continue to be perceived as an unsafe city.
Gary A. Brown
President Pro Tem
Detroit City Council
Follow on Twitter @GaryBrown4Det