More than 200 officers have quit the Detroit Police Department this year — twice as many as all of 2021
With four months left in the year, the Detroit Police Department has already lost twice as many officers this year than it did in all of 2021.
The city offered a one-time $2,000 bonus to officers in March to entice them to stay with the department.
Mayor Mike Duggan also approved double pay for officers who work overtime instead of time-and-a-half.
Despite that, the police department is still 200 officers short of what its budget allows. The vast majority of the officers who are leaving are younger officers who attended the Detroit Police Academy free of charge, said Assistant Chief David LeValley.
Many police departments only hire officers who have already been certified, but Detroit has its own academy and trains the officers for free.
LeValley said many of those officers are being trained in Detroit but then heading to suburban police departments and departments in other cities.
"The way it stands right now, that the city of Detroit or the taxpayers in Detroit bear all of the costs for that individual officer to go work in another agency," said LeValley.
It affects morale, Levalley said, and many officers are working double time and longer shifts amid the shortage of officers. He says the department is already about double the overtime budget that was spent last year to backfill shifts as needed this year.
"Certainly, we don't want to have people working too many hours or more hours than they desire. And it also has an impact on officers being forced to work overtime in order to cover those shifts, you know, and then also, if we have officers that work too many hours, then you have an officer out on the street that is potentially sleep deprived, that can impact decision making," LeValley said.
The department has been hiring and recruiting officers this year, just not at the pace of the officers who are turning in their badges.
Police officials said 138 officers have been hired this year, and the department is on track to hire another 60 officers in the next two months. Officials said there are also 90 students in the police academy training to be officers.
The starting annual salary for a police officer is $42,000, LeValley said.
Detroit has had multiple mass shootings this year. There were 309 homicides last year, and there have been 208 homicides so far in 2022.
Since 2021, 14% of the department's officers have left, the department said.
LeValley said that has wide-ranging effects. "We don't just arrest people. That's not necessarily what our job is. But we do a lot of education. We do a lot of prevention work. We have our neighborhood police officers out there that address quality of life issues. We have a very large detective component to the department," he said.
"We're doing recruiting. There's a lot that goes into a police department, a lot of community engagement events," said LeValley. "Relationship with the community is critical so that when something does happen, you know, we have those relationships in place and that the community will trust us, you know, they'll be more willing to share information with the department."