DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Come early March, Detroit Police will shift around their personnel so eight of every 10 officers are either patrolling the streets or investigating crimes. That means the elimination of the Detroit Police Department’s Tactical Mobile Unit and Gang Squad.
It’s all part of the city’s police restructuring plan, laid out by Interim Police Chief Chester Logan and Mayor Dave Bing, after Detroit saw its deadliest year in nearly two decades.
The moves are expected to put 100 more officers on the street to increase presence and improve response times.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Bing said redeployed officers should increase the city’s ability to close investigations and better link gun-related crimes.
Logan said he wants to get away from specialization.
“If you’re familiar with the military, everyone who goes in the Army is a soldier,” said Logan. “In the Detroit Police Department, everyone’s basic job is being a police officer, so that’s what we want 80 percent of our department to be, police officers — not Gang Squad, not this or not that.”
Logan said he wants to reduce the number of desk personnel to about 5 percent of the force, he said he cut two sergeants from his own office as part of the shakeup.
“It helps the citizens to know the more resources we put out on the street, the faster we can respond to their concerns, and also to prevent crime,” he said.
Police Commander Frankie Lewis said the decentralization of gang officers won’t make them any less effective to tackle any gang issues in the city.
While the Tactical Mobile Unit and Gang Squad officers will report to area precincts with the rest of the force, Lewis said they will still gather intel and address any gang problems. “With the federal department, with our federal agencies, and with our Homeland Security, we’ll be able to zero in on them immediately — and we’ll be able to use the members to multitask now,” he said.
Talking to WWJ Newsradio 950, Detroit Police Association President Mark Diaz said still too soon to see the move is the right one, but he’s cautiously optimistic.
“The more officers we have on the roads, come on. I mean, we can’t refute the fact that, again, many hands make light work and, you know, we have a ton of work to do, so the more hands the merrier,” Diaz said.
Officers recently took a 10 percent pay cut and some began working 12-hour days.
Detroit had 386 homicides in 2012, 42 more than the previous year. But, according department statistics, 2013 has seen fewer killings in the city so far than in early 2012. As of this week, there have been 16 homicides by Jan. 20, compared with 22 by this time. Shootings accounted for 333 of last year’s criminal homicides – up from 302 in 2011 and 254 in 2010.
Logan is expected to present the plan to the Detroit Police Commission at its regular board meeting on Thursday.
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