Sunday, December 04, 2011

What's Wrong With the Detroit Police Department?

John K. Bennett of DetroitUncovered.com posted a question on Facebook earlier today. I wanted to share his question, which I quote below, as well as my answer.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on Mr. Bennett's question by leaving a comment below.

John Bennett asked:
I'm writing a new story for HuffPost Detroit and I need your input. What's wrong with the Detroit Police Department? How come we keep coming up short of late in solving high profile crimes? Do we have the proper direction? Is it leadership? Are we too soft? What can be done to make the police department more efficient and more effective? How do we get the most qualified people in charge? Are you satisfied with the current leadership of the police department?
In my opinion, the problem with the Detroit Police Department is that we have too many deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs (roughly double what any any city our size would have); we spend a ridiculous amount on administration (set a copy of the budgets from Atlanta, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, or Milwaukee Police Departments next to Detroit's and you'll be blown away by the differences); and finally - because so many resources are expended on those first two items - we are forced to short change our front line operations.

Because we short change our front line operations (e.g., not enough officers/detectives, not enough squad cars and equipment, minimal forensics, etc.), the Detroit Police Department isn't able to solve high-profile crimes or even most low-profile ones, for that matter.

As far as leadership goes, I approach the subject of leadership with a military background. In the military, there is a concept called Command Responsibility. Simply put, it means that if you are in command then you are responsible for anything - and I do mean anything - that goes wrong on your watch. Period.

In my life, I've seen a lot of things go wrong in cases where DPD was on the scene or should have been there. From the Malice Green beating to two 12 year boys who were killed in their own home on Mansfield a few blocks from me to the little girl who was killed during a SWAT raid, there have been instances where something went fundamentally wrong.

However, I have never once seen a command level officer within DPD stand up and publicly accept responsibility for whatever it was that went wrong. In the most fundamental terms, there simply is no leadership within DPD. There are just some guys in fancy uniforms with a big paycheck.
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