July 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

New Detroit police chief: 'Crime is driving people crazy'

Warren Evans )

Detroit --New Police Chief Warren Evans says he plans on improving the reporting of crime data and bolstering 911 response times but will first examine how the troubled department deploys offices.

On his first day on the job, Evans -- who stepped down as Wayne County sheriff on Monday -- sat down for an interview with The Detroit News to discuss his appointment by Mayor Dave Bing and obstacles succeeding his popular predecessor, James Barren.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q: This appointment has taken the city by complete surprise. Given your high profile job as Wayne County sheriff and your recent run in the mayor's race, why did you take the job of Detroit Police Chief?

A: I think it's the most critical spot in law enforcement. I had been talking with the mayor for a couple of weeks, initiated by him, but discussions nonetheless, just talking about the strategic planning. We've all got diminishing resources and crime is driving people crazy. It is a job that I think, provides the challenge and my interest to try and do it.

Q: What's been the reaction among the police rank-and-file today, all weekend, to news of your appointment?

A: There are an awful lot of police officers in the city of Detroit who are friends of mine and have been friends of mine for a long time. On the job today, there's been nothing but respect from the police officers that I've talked to. No question, this is not a Chief Evans vs. Chief Barren's issue in my mind, and I'm sure it's not in his. We're both soldiers and we're both police officers. I have absolutely no trouble with any police officer having an emotional tie to their former chief. But he's not the chief now.

Q: What will you focus on first? What are the goals that you plan to implement?

A: The reporting mechanisms in the city has some flaws. The process that officers use to fill out reports has problems. There are a myriad of problems and you've got to find a way to try and fix them. You've got manpower shortages, then you've got some technology issues that is not the fault of any officer but it's posing a problem. Q: You come into the job with basically less than 3,000 police officers, and a city that's been hammered with crime. How do you get the job done without additional manpower or the additional resources?

A: You're never gonna get it done optimally until you have enough manpower to do it, but that's a deployment issue. This is the first day on the job. I have to look and find out where everybody is, where do I think they ought to be, where do the crime stats tell me they ought to be.

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