Friday, January 06, 2012

Guest Commentary: Virtual Precincts Don't Address Real Problems

I have to admit that I'm torn in regards to the "virtual police precincts" that Detroit's Police Chief Ralph Godbee announced yesterday. I've advocated cutting administrative jobs within the police department for years. However, what I've advocated for was to cut the jobs at headquarters, rather than the ones in the precincts.

I'm still not sure about these "virtual police precincts." That's why I'm glad to have a retired police sergeant, and longtime resident of the Warrendale neighborhood, David L. Malhalab available to share his thoughts. The comments below are his own, with only minimal editing from me.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee has foisted the most outlandish reorganization plan on the residents of Detroit - one that will put the lives of Detroit Police Officers and residents in danger.

He will close precincts - a necessary public building that should be kept open, at all costs. Close City Hall, cut the City Council staff and budget, but keep police precincts open 24/7. Detroit is not Boston or Lansing, it is Detroit - a deeply troubled city with very serious crime problems. Say goodbye to Detroit's false claim of "community relations."

Godbee, the Chief that shouldn't have been, and with the apparent approval of Mayor Dave Bing, will close the precincts between 4 p.m. - 8 a.m. (16 hours) to the public. Precincts have been an essential safe haven, crime reporting, and contact point between the community and the police. It is outrageous and simply, defiantly wrong to close any Detroit Police precinct for any time.

There needs to be some restructuring  within the police department - some inside police duties should be shifted to sworn civilians - but to denigrate and deceive Detroit residents, into believing that police officers don't serve the needs of residents by working inside the precinct stations - is a damnable lie - and Chief Godbee comparing officers who work inside to "Maytag repairman - waiting for a crime to happen" is insulting, and clearly dim witted. Godbee has insulted all police officers in Detroit and throughout the nation, with this clear misrepresentation of what police officers do - while assigned to inside duties.

Detroit needs more police officers on the street patrolling, but officers are needed to take thousands of police reports that citizens make inside the station - that patrolling officers can't take - which frees officers to keep patrolling.

Detroit needs police detectives in the precincts - to investigate the crime that patrolling officers and desk officers take. They need to be the contact point for residents who can't figure out where to go to get follow up information on their reported crime.

Crisnet, the primary crime report system for DPD has been a mistake and a ball and chain around the ankles of police officers since former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings approved using it - it keeps police officers from properly patrolling the streets - I have complained about it for years - former Assistant Police Chief Ronald Haddad (now Dearborn Police Chief) wrote an infamous memo, confirming my criticism of Crisnet.

Every police chief since Cummings has said that Crisnet would be dropped. It has not been - so police officers continue to be burdended by a slow crime report system.

Councilman Gray Brown has said that he could save the Detroit Police Department $8 million dollars, but has failed to put his suggestions on the table. He continues to try con Detroit residents with his ignorant blather - rather that putting a concrete proposal out so it can be discussed.

Bing put his faith and the lives of Detroit police officers and residents in the hands of Godbee - and we have got nothing good from him.

I have complained about the low hiring standards, lack of training and lack of equipment in the Department, and for years about the nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism that has corrupted and destroyed the Detroit Police Department.

I have said for years that Detroit police officers and residents deserve better from its political leaders and it police executives - Godbee's 'virtual precincts' and his lack of real, solid, and creative solutions to the Departments problems and Mayor Bing's support of him - shows that both Bing and Godbee need to be replaced, and the sooner the better - for the safety of officers and residents.

What do you think ???

DAVID L. MALHALAB
SGT  DPD RETIRED
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