DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police on the beat in an insolvent city have resorted to buying their own gear.
That includes uniforms, according to Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz, who says the first uniform is issued complimentary by the Detroit Police Department — but officers are pretty much on their own after that.
“It’s obviously to the world the city of Detroit’s in a fiscal state of emergency, so the funds really aren’t being allocated to the uniforms as they should be,” Diaz said.
Officers, some who make as little as $14 an hour, might spend $1,000 per year out-of-pocket on uniforms, he said, ” … And the stipend that an officer gets on an annual basis is not enough, truly, to keep the officers outfitted properly.”
“The uniform just doesn’t stop with the shirt, the hat and the pants,” said Diaz, “… parts of the uniform such as boots, those aren’t covered; and the true quality boots that last and that can live up to the rigors of patrolling in a city like the city of Detroit — that’s an extra $300 on an annual basis.”
In addition, Diaz said, although cops are given ammunition for weapons qualification, many officers have to buy their own bullets to have enough to stay sharp.
“Depending on how much extra time at the firing range that officer needs, now that number can go through the roof,” Diaz said. “It’s not uncommon for officers to spend thousands of dollars a year just on ammunition.”
Diaz said Detroit police officers are expected to pay for their own secondary weapons, as well as other tools such as knives they use to cut seat belts off accident victims.
Diaz said, to be fair, he does understand the city — which filed for bankruptcy in July — is strapped for cash.
He’s spoken with Detroit Police Chief James Craig who has been made aware of the issue and is working to fix it.
“We’re hopeful — I should say we’re confident— that working with the new chief who absolutely recognizes this to be a serious situation … we’re looking to see this resolved.”
In the meantime, Diaz said, the union is looking into grants and other funding sources.
“I’ll tell you what — we haven’t gone to private donors, but obviously, in the condition of the city right now, every little bit will help,” he said, “so, if anyone is willing to help out with this it would be fantastic.”
WWJ Newsradio 950 has contacted the Detroit Police Department for comment.