July 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Amid cuts, Detroit gets police help

State troopers to focus on violent crime; sheriff deputies to patrol roads

Detroit — Detroit Police are getting some patrol help from their brothers in blue — and brown.

Michigan State Police troopers and Wayne County Sheriff's deputies will be deployed to Detroit to aid with violent crime prevention and traffic enforcement, helping ease some of the sting from an expected trimming of the Detroit Police force.

Detroit's 2012-13 budget, which took effect when the fiscal year began July 1, cut $75 million from the Police Department's $414 million budget. That's expected to reduce 380 positions from the force of about 2,600 through attrition and early retirement.

The city already has about 1,000 fewer police officers than it did a decade ago, and while the city's population has shrunk since then, the violent crime rate remains about the same. Detroit Police officials said the extra hands from the sheriff's office and the State Police are appreciated.

"The Detroit Police Department has a good working relationship with the county and state, and we welcome their assistance," Detroit Police Sgt. Alan Quinn said.

Beginning Sunday, the State Police will send two squads to Detroit, consisting of 14 troopers, two sergeants and a lieutenant, MSP Lt. Michael Shaw said.

Wayne County deputies already are patrolling the city, after the county commission voted June 7 to let them to write tickets on secondary roads. Previously, deputies only patrolled around Eight Mile.

Under the Secondary Road Patrol initiative, which was first approved by the City Council in May, deputies are allowed to patrol the city's other secondary roads, or roads that aren't highways or state trunk lines. State law prohibits sheriffs from enforcing local ordinances without permission from the city and county.

State Police will tap Detroit's crime data to determine high-crime areas. "The troopers will go to those areas," Shaw said. "They won't be answering 911 calls; Detroit Police will respond to their calls for service while troopers will hopefully help knock down the felony crime rate."

Shaw said the troopers will work in conjunction with Detroit Police. "If there's a call they need to help with, obviously, they'll do that, but the main focus is to go after violent crimes," Shaw said. "If there's an area that we know has a high rate of narcotics activity, prostitution or shootings, we'll have our squads patrol those neighborhoods and run those people out of there."

In addition, there are two new state trooper classes scheduled, each with about 80 recruits, Shaw said. The first class will graduate in October; the second class will start a week after that.

"Sixty percent of those recruit classes will be deployed to the 2nd and 3rd District," Shaw said. The 2nd District consists of Detroit and Pontiac, while the 3rd District covers Flint and Saginaw.

Other than Grand River, Gratiot, Van Dyke, Hoover, Ford Road, Telegraph and Michigan Avenue, the deputies can enforce city ordinances, such as traffic violations. The county and city split ticket revenue equally.

"We've always enforced felonies in the city; we already have narcotics and prostitution enforcement in Detroit," Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said. "But in order for the county to patrol municipalities, we have to be invited in. We don't have the inherent right to enforce local city ordinances without the approval of the local authority, which we got.

"It'll help for us to have a presence in the city. We can back up Detroit police if they need help."

The extra patrols are coming out of county and state budgets.

Another effort to help Detroit Police patrols began four years ago when the Wayne State University police expanded patrols into areas of the city.

Those patrols include Midtown and areas north of Grand Boulevard, WSU Police chief Tony Holt said.

Evelyn Lowe, 76, who has lived in her northwest Detroit home for 44 years, is happy the city is getting more police officers.

"I'm not surprised they're cutting back," she said. "You don't get a lot of help now when you call the police. I hope this helps."

Napoleon, who was the city's police chief from 1998-2001, said he doesn't envy the current chief, Ralph Godbee.

"He's got a tough job," he said. "There's an unacceptable rate of violence in our city, and the police department is woefully understaffed. It's a much smaller department than when I was chief. I don't have any idea what I would do differently if I was sitting in his position."


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Wayne County Deputy Phil Migliaccio checks drivers’ speed. Detroit is getting extra help with law enforcement from the state and Wayne County. / Todd McInturf / The Detroit News
Wayne County Deputy Phil Migliaccio, foreground, watches a Detroit Police ...
Migliaccio, right, shakes hands with Louis Green, center, and Fred ...