Friday, December 11, 2009

Interesting Emails

I had an interesting email conversation with two retired police officers about the current state of the Detroit Police Department.  With their respective permissions, I'd like to share excerpts from those conversations with you today.

David L. Malhalab, a retired sergeant from the Detroit Police Department, commented in an email that:

DPD can't do the job of protecting residents - their leadership, their low hiring standards,  lack of personnel, poor equipment and low morale - are difficulties they can't overcome unless they get an infusion of money and personnel. Detroit needs a former Police Chief Bratton of LAPD to come in and clean house.

Mr. Malhalab remarks about former Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department inspired me to reach out to Thomas E. Page, who began his career with Detroit Police Department before moving to the Los Angeles Police Department where he retired as a sergeant and officer in charge of the LAPD's Drug Recognition Unit.

I asked him if he thought Detroit needed a police chief like Bill Bratton.

For the most part I agree with David. As I think I've said before, I don't know if the DPD can be saved.  I really do believe it should be shut down and merged into the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.  Tear up the union contracts that make seniority the prime qualification for elite assignments, and that also prevent civilianization of jobs that sworn officers shouldn't be doing (e.g., directing traffic at Tiger games).  Above all, the police need to be held accountable.  Does anyone blame the DPD for the persistently high crime rate and the abysmally low clearance rate?  No, they don't.  Nobody holds their feet to the fire and says do something!  And that's really what Bratton did.  The underlying philosophy of Bratton's style (really all he did was  rename the old LAPD style of broken windows policing) is that police CAN do something about crime.  What I do disagree with David about is the need for more personnel.  The DPD needs better personnel and better utilization of that personnel.

Chief Bratton's reputation for holding his police officers accountable is legendary.  During his tenure, it was fairly common police stations to have a board listing each officer along with the number of arrests that they've made, number of citation issued and so on each month.
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