Detroit – Police Chief Ralph Godbee on Wednesday touted plans for 12-hour patrol shifts, a move he says will cut costs while keeping more officers on the street.
But the city’s police union is criticizing the decision to extend hours and warns it’ll be detrimental to officers and the public.
Godbee detailed the plan during a news conference Wednesday outside police headquarters. The chief said the shift changes will affect about 1,500 patrol officers and aim to get more “boots on the ground” and provide adequate support and backup.
Godbee’s announcement came one day after Detroit City Council rejected a request to put a $56 million tax increase on the November ballot to raise funds for more police protection.
“These are extraordinary times,” Godbee said Wednesday, adding it was “unfortunate” that the council didn’t vote to put the measure before residents.
“As chief of police, I’ve got to deliver police service.”
Detroit City Council voted 7-2 against the measure, which was proposed by a coalition of public safety advocates including Godbee. The plan would have added 30 to 40 officers per precinct and nine mills to city tax bills for at least five years.
Godbee said the new shift configuration will be in place for one year and is expected to cut overtime costs and give officers more days off each month. The 12-hour patrols will be revisited and possibly amended later, he said.
Joe Duncan, president of the Detroit Police Officer Association, said working eight hours in the city is tough enough.
“We’re not talking about Mayberry here, we’re talking about one of the most dangerous places in America,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can do 12 hours in the city of Detroit. Not with the crime, it’s constant. It’s a disservice to the officers themselves and to residents.”
Godbee said officers will work 84 hours every two weeks and will get 14 days off per month. The officers will also get a 45-minute lunch break, instead of the current 30-minute break, he said.
The only thing I can give back is time,” he said. “They are working under tough circumstances. I want to make sure we can do things to give back to officers as much as possible.”
The Detroit Police Department responds to more than one million calls for service each year.
As of Aug. 5, there were 212 homicides. There were 211 at the same time last year and 182 in 2010, according to the department.
In May alone there were 657 aggravated assaults, 278 robberies, 33 homicides and 33 carjackings recorded in Detroit.
Duncan said the union was first approached about the 12-hour shifts after it submitted its tentative agreement in February, but the union — out of concern for officer safety — did not support it. But under city policy, the changes can be implemented without union approval.
“If you are over-worked and tired you can’t perform the same job at full capacity,” he said. “In my opinion it’s sacrificing officers for possible financial gain.”
The 2012-13 budget approved by Mayor Dave Bing slashed $75 million — 18 percent — from the department’s $414 million budget.
Duncan said officers have already experienced reductions in their pay, healthcare and pensions.
From The Detroit News