Detroit Police

If I began exhibiting clear signs that I could no longer take care of myself, eventually something would happen.

I might get myself killed or locked up. Thousands of people suffer such fates every year.  But in more fortunate cases, incompetent people have legal guardians appointed for them.

Sometimes, they are declared wards of the state. The idea is to prevent them from doing themselves, or anyone else, any harm.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has suspended Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

“After learning of the allegations regarding Chief Ralph Godbee, I have placed him on a 30-day suspension pending a full and thorough investigation of this matter," Bing said in a statement released Tuesday.

The "allegations" come from a Detroit police officer, Angelica Robinson, who says she was sexually involved with Godbee.

Detroit Firehouse / via facebook

Detroit’s first responders say they’re under siege from all angles—and some officers say their ranks are reaching a breaking point.

Detroit’s police and fire departments have taken some steep cuts in the past few months. Police officers in particular have taken major pay and benefit cuts, and are now working twelve-hour shifts.

And relations with city leaders have turned downright hostile. At a community meeting with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing last week, that anger boiled over.

A community meeting with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing came to an abrupt and early end last night.

Bing and members of his administration were booed and heckled offstage after about 20 minutes.

Before the meeting broke down, Bing took questions from a few people. Most were angry questions, about issues ranging from the city’s lagging bus system, to a proposal to let the state lease Belle Isle.

The city of Detroit held its annual memorial service to commemorate the September 11th terrorist attacks Tuesday.

A mournful bagpipe solo captured the somber spirit at the event in downtown Campus Martius Park. With speeches, music and prayer, it remembered victims of the tragedy, and honored the first responders who saved lives that day.

Robert Foley, special-agent-in-charge of the FBI in Detroit, said the 11th anniversary should “renew our resolve” to prevent future attacks. But he says it’s tricky to figure out just how much success we’ve had.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is lamenting cutting police officers' pay by 10 percent to help shore up the city's finances.

The Detroit Free Press reported on his remarks today, a day after a judge ruled the city could make the cuts and implement 12-hour work shifts:

“This 10% cut that’s been imposed … does not make me feel good at all,” Bing said. “I know the negative impact that it has on individuals and their families, and I wish that we at a better situation where I didn’t have to do it. But in order to bring our city back to financial stability, there’s pain that’s going around for all of us.”

Bing said he hopes the pay cuts and longer shifts are only temporary while the city works to get out from under a mountain of debt.

City leaders slashed $75 million from the police department’s 2012-13 budget.

The cuts were challenged by the Detroit Police Officers Association

But yesterday, Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald lifted an injunction allowing the cuts to go forward.

Detroit's Police Chief praised officers for staying on despite the cuts, but Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "one detective-sergeant says figuring a way out of the department is a daily topic of conversation among officers."

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Ballot rulings expected Friday

"The state Supreme Court is expected to rule Friday on challenges to four questions that could go on the November ballot. The challenges focused on the wording of the proposals, and whether they fully explain how they would change the Michigan Constitution.The questions at issue would guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, allow an expansion of non-tribal casinos, require two-thirds super-majorities for the Legislature to raise taxes,  and make it harder to build a new international bridge in Detroit. Three other questions have already been approved for the ballot. The deadline to finalize the ballot is a week away," Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit police pay cuts

"The city of Detroit can move forward on cutting police officers' pay by 10 percent and implementing 12-hour work shifts. Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald lifted an injunction Thursday, allowing Detroit to impose $75 million in police cuts. City leaders say the cuts are necessary to help trim the budget deficit.
Detroit Police Officers Association President Joe Duncan filed a lawsuit to stop the pay cuts and longer work shifts. Police Chief Ralph Godbee says about 1,500 patrol officers will work the longer shifts in an effort to cut costs, while keeping more officers on city streets," Vince Duffy reports.

Mitten fight makes money

"A good-natured PR war between Michigan and Wisconsin has won a national award. Last December, Wisconsin began using a brown knitted mitten in its winter tourism campaign. That prompted an outcry from many in Michigan, who consider this the true mitten state. The two states' travel associations used the publicity to raise money to buy mittens and gloves for those in need. This week a national travel association gave both states an award for the effort. According to the association the controversy resulted in 17-milion dollar worth of free media coverage," Lindsey Smith reports.

Mayor's Office / City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says a judge’s order blocking 12-hour shifts for police officers will make it harder to balance the budget and keep the city safe.

"Absolutely. No doubt about it," he said. "I think some of the initiatives that we were putting forward was for two different reasons – once again, to make sure we stay within our budget, but also to keep as many police officers on the street as we possibly could and keeping them in the neighborhoods. So this doesn’t help."

Detroit police officers have won a day in court—and the temporary suspension of new contract terms that were set to go into effect in the coming week.

The case’s legal outcome could have major implications for Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

Mayor Dave Bing imposed new contract terms on most city employees, including police, last month.

Those changes included a 10% pay cut, and throwing out old work rules—which led the department to implement new 12-hour shifts for officers.

Detroit’s Financial Advisory Board is charged with ensuring the city’s financial viability--and has sweeping powers to do that under the city’s consent agreement with Lansing.

But at a board meeting Monday, some Detroit police officers pleaded with the board to consider the human cost of their actions.

Like most city employees, most police officers are about to get hit with a 10% pay cut.

They also face other cutbacks and major changes—including working twelve-hour shifts—as the department, and the city, try to re-align in the face of major budget cuts.

The Detroit City Council has rejected an effort to put a public safety millage on the November ballot.

The Detroit Police Department pushed hard for the five-year millage. It would have raised $56 million over five years to put 500 more “boots on the ground,” in Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee’s words.

But the Council rejected the effort by a 7-2 vote.

myfoxdetroit.com

Several hundred Detroit police officers, firefighters and other municipal union members have rallied in protest of wage and benefits cuts called for in new city contracts.

Holding aloft some signs that read: "Highest Crime Rate. Lowest Pay," workers, retirees and their supporters marched today around City Hall.

The rally was organized by Detroit police unions.

Mayor Dave Bing imposed new contracts on unions whose previous deals expired June 30. Salaries will be cut by 10 percent, and employees must come up with 20 percent of their medical costs.

wikimedia commons

Rumors are running rampant in the Detroit Police Department after the city imposed a pay cut and changes to work rules on most officers.

That’s according to officers who spoke privately about what those changes will do to the city’s long-troubled police force.

Just before Mayor Dave Bing imposed the new contract terms, including a 10 percent pay cut, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. praised his officers for their dedication.

“They could do other things," Godbee said. "Nobody has checked it in, nobody has hung up their badge and gun at the door.”

Flickr user Miss Lauralee

A new program in Detroit is taking a creative approach to helping former inmates improve their lives. That approach involves pairing two groups of people who often don't trust one another: former inmates and police officers.

Jessica Taylor came up with the idea for the mentorship program called New Beginnings. She’s Executive Director of Chance for Life, a non-profit that helps inmates transition back into the community after they've been released.

As part of the mentorship program, officers drive the men to counseling appointments and recovery programs. They help the men obtain birth certificates and social security cards. The pairs also take part in social activities, like going to ball games.

At first, Taylor says it was a tough sell to both groups. But after a few months of spending time together, she says the men consider each other friends, and some even consider one another family.

Taylor says if you want to make communities safer, you have to engage the people who make them unsafe, and you have to involve the police. She hopes to expand the program in the near future.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing joined other city and law enforcement officials to break ground on the city’s future public safety headquarters Tuesday.

The former MGM Grand Casino and another building will get a $60 million makeover before it’s slated to open next year.

The renovated complex will house Detroit’s Police, Fire, EMS, and Homeland Security departments. There are also plans to put a Michigan State Police crime lab there.

Bing says the new set-up will help the city’s crime-fighting efforts.

Update 1:55 p.m.

The Detroit News reports that three police officers have been temporarily quarantined, including the officer who handled the letter and two who were in the immediate vicinity.

The News quotes Inspector Don Johnson of the Homeland Security Unit of the Detroit Police Department:

"The officer who was exposed doesn't appear to be in any pain or distress at this time. At this point, we are treating it more as a hazmat situation rather than a bomb situation."

1:15 p.m.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are responding to a situation at a Detroit Police Station.

The police station at the corner of Schaefer and Grand River was evacuated and a Hazmat team dispatched after a suspicious powder fell out of a mailed envelope.  The envelope had no return address.

Hazmat crews are still analyzing the substance.

jalopnik.com

Detroit Police and federal law enforcement agencies say they’re strengthening their collaboration to fight violence.

And they’ve set their sights on Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Law enforcement brass gathered at the crime wave’s ground zero—the city’s east side—to outline their joint plans Wednesday.

jalopnik.com

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city.

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured.

Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened.

jalopnik.com

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a tentative deal has been reached with police unions, as the city tries to head off a threatened state takeover.  

The size of Detroit’s deficit is in dispute, but the city could run out of cash by April. 

A state review team is investigating whether Detroit needs an emergency manager.  That person could set aside union contracts under current state law.  

Bing says the city can fix its own financial problems.  Last week most non-uniformed city unions agreed to take cuts. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Police say car break-ins are up in the city’s entertainment district. So they’re trying a new approach to prevent crime: banning street parking in the area.

A lot of people—Detroit Police won’t yet say how many—got their cars towed last weekend as a result of the parking ban.

Police officially issued the ban late on Friday:

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee says the number of serious crimes in Detroit fell last year—but the number of killings climbed.

Preliminary statistics show Detroit recorded 344 homicides in 2011. That’s up about 12 percent from 2010, but roughly in line with the longer-term average.

“We promised that we would reduce violent crime. Are we satisfied with homicide numbers? Absolutely not," Godbee says. "But promises made, promises kept. We’ve delivered on reducing violent crime.”

Godbee credited his officers’ “Herculean efforts” to combat crime as department resources continue to shrink. He says the department is re-organizing to deal with that—including eliminating some desk jobs to put more officers on the streets.

Godbee also notes that Detroit Police have improved outreach and coordination with community, and the DPD is now about 80 percent compliant with a federal consent decree.

The department has been under federal oversight since 2003, for issues related to excessive force and prisoner treatment.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee is reorganizing his department to try and put more officers on the streets.

To do that, Godbee is eliminating some desk positions and moving those officers out on patrol.

That means citizens will now report what police call “non-emergency crimes” to a Telephone Crime Reporting Unit—rather than directly to an officer.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit police say three of four women recently found dead in car trunks had promoted themselves as escorts through a website.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee talked to reporters Monday, a day after the burned bodies of two women were discovered in a trunk on Detroit's east side. On Dec. 19, the bodies of two other women were also found in a car trunk.

Detroit Police say a technology known as “Shot Spotter” would help the department’s battle against gun violence.                                                     

The department wants to use $2.6 million in federal money to pilot the gunshot-sensing technology system.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee says it would be an invaluable tool in locating shots fired, and deploying officers quickly.

But City Council members, who must approve the project, were skeptical. Councilman Gary Brown questions Shot Spotter’s effectiveness—especially since it won’t include video.

“According to the Department of Justice, this is an expensive piece of equipment for…the value that you get out of it,” Brown says.

Brown also suggested the department doesn’t have enough manpower to respond to all detected gunshots.

The Council delayed a vote on the issue until next week.

DETROIT (AP) - A police dive team has found a cannon in the Detroit River near the city's downtown. The cannon was discovered about 200 feet from Cobo Center in July. The police department says the cannon could be more than two centuries old.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Federal, state, and local officials say they’re banding together to fight rising gun violence in Detroit. FBI Special Agent Andy Arena, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing are among those calling for a “holistic” approach to curbing crime. Arena says the FBI is pitching in by helping analyze Detroit’s crime data for trends and hotspots. But he says there are also deeper problems to address.

Congressman Hansen Clarke says Detroit needs a “SWAT team”-style barrage of emergency aid for the city.

Clarke is a first-term Congressman from Detroit. He says he plans to introduce legislation that will take existing federal taxes Detroiters pay, and make sure they stay in the city.

Clarke says that money should be directed toward keeping schools open longer, encouraging immigrant entrepreneurship, stabilizing the housing market and creating jobs.

Detroit is expanding Project 14, a housing incentive program that initially targeted police officers, to all city employees.

It’s part of an effort to entice people to live where they work, and re-build Detroit’s population.

All Detroit city employees had to live in the city until state law overturned a residency requirement in 1999. That dealt a crushing blow to Detroit’s already-diminished tax base.

steve carmody

The Detroit program meant to lure police officers back to live in the community they serve has officially welcomed its first resident.

Currently, most Detroit police officers live outside the city. Project 14 aims to entice them back with generous housing incentives.

thedetroit300.org

15 people were shot in about 24 hours this past weekend in Detroit. 7 of them died.

The bloody day has police and city officials scurrying to find ways to combat surging gun violence.

Overall, violent crime is down in Detroit this year. But that’s been overshadowed by a spike in homicides—more than 220 already. That’s almost one every day. The vast majority are shootings, and most of the victims and perpetrators are young men.

Two Detroit residents active in community policing agree the violence stems fundamental problems in the city’s broken communities.

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