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Major overhaul, stalled chief search loom over Detroit Police

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Multiple reports indicate a major shake-up is in the works for the Detroit Police Department.

The move would reportedly disband several units within the department, in order to redeploy more officers to street patrol.

That’s the type of plan some in law enforcement circles have advocated for some time.

“We believe--and we’ve said this from spring of last year up until now-- there needs to be a surge, in boots on the ground. In the number of police officers who are actually responding to the calls coming from our citizens,” said Jerome Warfield, chairman of the Detroit Police Board of Commissioners.

Warfield says the board hopes to hear an outline of the plan at their meeting this week.

In a statement, Logan says the department is “still developing” a plan, and “no final decisions have been made regarding its implementation.”

Detroit’s state-appointed financial review team is also involved in the meetings, according to Detroit Police Officer’s Association head Mark Diaz.

Another uncertainty factor hangs over the department now, too: the search for a new chief.

Former Detroit police chief Ralph Godbee hastily retired amidst a sex scandal in October. Logan was brought on as interim chief in the meantime.

Under the new city charter, the Board of Police Commissioners must first select search firms to vet potential candidates for chief.

Warfield said the board has done that, and sent them on to Bing’s office.  But since then, he said they’ve received conflicting signals from the mayor’s office about whether or not there’s money to go forward.

Warfield said the administration told them at one point that they had $70,000 available for the search, but “nothing has come of that.”

“They have to ok the resources to be spent, he said. “Unfortunately, at this point in time, our hands are pretty much tied.”

The Detroit City Council must also sign off on the contracts. A Bing spokesman declined to comment on the status of funding for the chief search last week.

Bing had introduced a plan to reshuffle top police brass in November, but the Police Board of Commissioners has hesitated to act on it.

Warfield said the board has approved a handful of the promotions Bing had asked for. But he said the Board had been looking for more specifics about the chief search, and for a true reorganization plan that put more officers on patrol.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio 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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