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Detroit Police, Firefighters Protest Pay, Benefit Cuts

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Detroit police and firefighters carry photos of fallen officers. (WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

Detroit police and firefighters carry photos of fallen officers. (WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Carrying signs and chanting, ‘No union busting!’ hundreds of Detroit police officers, firefighters and members of other unions marched in downtown Detroit Thursday.

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

Detroit Police Officers Association President Joseph Duncan told those gathered in front of the Spirit of Detroit that the proposed pay cuts make them the lowest paid officers in the 50 states.

Talking to WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil, Duncan said the cuts are leading to an exodus of officers.

“One, you’ve got people leaving. Two … it’s human nature that if they’re not compensated, they’re not gonna perform, you know. It’s the sad truth,” he said.

Duncan said 30 officers left last week.

He said the police shortage is making the officers’ job tough, and the city unsafe.

“I mean, I don’t have to tell you that every day you wake up there’s someone shot, killed, stabbed or robbed in this city,” Duncan said. “The citizens are either afraid to leave their house, afraid to walk the streets — and until we’re able to make those citizens safe, this city will continue to be (overrun by) lawlessness.”

In his wheelchair surround by family, veteran Detroit Police Officer Ronald Taylor of the Detroit Gang Squad is living proof of the risks faced by police on a daily basis.  Taylor said that on May 15 he was injured while pursuing a stolen vehicle.

“A woman that was in the stolen vehicle ran me into a tree,” said Taylor.  “It’s not a safe environment; if we cut our police we’re cutting our own (protection) …”

(View Photo Gallery)

A Detroit Fire Fighter’s Association official said the cuts will mean fewer fire stations, more layoffs and more than 250 demotions.

Bing has said the cuts will save Detroit more than $100 million.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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