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Detroit Police moves put fewer officers in precincts, more on the streets

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee is reorganizing his departmentto try and put more officers on the streets.

To do that, Godbee is eliminating some desk positions and moving those officers out on patrol.

That means citizens will now report what police call “non-emergency crimes” to a Telephone Crime Reporting Unit—rather than directly to an officer.

Godbee says the moves will free up more officers to respond to serious crimes. But it also reflects the reality of a department that has about 30 percent fewer officers than it did 10 years ago.

“The construct of sending police to non-emergency type situations, unfortunately we can do no more,” Godbee said. “We don’t have the resources available to do that.”

These organizational changes, and a few others, will be piloted over the next month in the city’s northeastern district.

Deborrah Landry, who does citizen patrols with an area block club, liked what she heard from the Chief.

“I’m sure he didn’t give us all the information,” Landry said.”We’ll get that in the future. But what he did address was good for us.”

Landry said she was relieved that Godbee shot down widespread reports that precincts would close in the overnight hours.

Godbee said given the city’s budget troubles, he is preparing more than 100 layoff notices. But he thinks the department can re-purpose some federal grant money, and ultimately avoid making those layoffs.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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