Gotta hand it to the Detroit police. It at least adapts to circumstances. A few years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff exposed that the force was routinely cooking the books to shed the city's reputation as the murder capital of the country – where the police itself commits a number of the murders! Reported LeDuff in 2009:
The police department incorrectly reclassified 22 of its 368 slayings last year as "justifiable" and did not report them as homicides to the FBI as required by federal guidelines. There were at least 59 such omissions over the past five years, according to incomplete records obtained from the police department through the Freedom of Information Act
A thorough look at the 2008 homicide statistics reveals other omissions:
- In one case, the police reclassified a homicide as a suicide.
- Two men were stabbed to death, but were not included due to "insufficient evidence."
- A man who was beaten to death, according to the medical examiner, died by accident, according to the police.
- A baby beaten to death never made the homicide tally, nor did a man who was found shot in the head.
What is more, records show Detroit police officers killed 10 civilians last year, a five-fold increase from 2007. That makes the Detroit department one of the most deadly in America even as it operates under federal supervision, for among other things, the use of lethal force and the illegal detention of witnesses.
Adjusting Detroit's number to 368 homicides pushes the city's rate to 40.7 per 100,000 residents, past the previously reported rate of 33.8 and well ahead of Baltimore's 36.9. It makes Detroit once again the Murder Capital of cities with more than 500,000 residents.
But last weekend, facing a 10 percent pay cut and 12-hour shifts, Detroit police officers patrolling the streets ahead of the Tigers game warning fans that the city was in fact not safe. "The city is getting more dangerous," said DPOA President Joe Duncan to The Detroit News. "The only thing I know that's going down in the city of Detroit is my paycheck and my membership." He, and his colleagues, who had previously sued the city to avoid layoffs and wage cuts, urged fans to vote "yes" on Prop 1 and 2.
Prop 1 will essentially scrap a recent law handing emergency managers powers to restore the fiscal solvency of cities like Detroit by, among other things, rewriting union contracts.
Prop 2 (aka Protect Our Jobs initiative) is the ballot proposal that will enshrine union benefits and powers in the state constitution, making public sector unions a more powerful force in Michigan than Magic Johnson in his heyday – not to mention the elected legislature – as I pointed out in this WSJ last week.
But police officers can cook crime stats all they want, the reality is that if Detroit goes off the fiscal cliff – a distinct possibility in the next year without divine intervention – so will their jobs.
In other news, as police unions were messing with baseball fans, Detroit's police chief was allegedly messing with a subordinate and was forced to step down.