DETROIT, MI – Two leaders of the Detroit Police Officers Association abruptly resigned on Tuesday, just as the union could face job losses and wage cuts to stem the city’s fiscal crisis.
It wasn’t clear who would replace association President Marty Bandemer and Vice President Cheryl Smith, or what prompted their resignations, effective Jan. 1.
Their exits are not expected to affect contract negotiations, said Dan Lijana, a city spokesman. “We’re still looking to move forward.”
The departures come as the city faces a $45 million budget shortfall and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is calling for concessions including 10 percent wage cuts to stave off a possible state takeover.
State officials on Tuesday started a preliminary review of Detroit finances to determine if the city needs more outside help to solve its cash-flow problems.
Bandemer, Smith and other union members couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night.
In an opinion piece in The Detroit News last month, Bandemer protested Bing’s call for givebacks, including increasing medical insurance premiums. He said officers have gone nearly four years without a wage increase and already agreed to cut city pension costs by more than $100 million.
“…No other major police department in the country has given up so much,” he wrote. “Despite an economy, which we did not cause, Detroit police officers are rapidly sliding out of the middle class. The value of a Detroit police officer’s life is cheap on the streets and considered likewise by the city of Detroit.”
David Malhalab, a retired Detroit police sergeant and longtime city and police observer, said the next union head must fiercely bargain with the city so officer benefits aren’t drastically cut.
“Police officers do a dangerous job everyday,” he said. “They deserve a fair and adequate wage and a good retirement.”
From The Detroit News.