Detroit Doesn't Seem to Know How Many Police Employees It Has or What They Do

How does anybody know they've cut 40 percent?


"I'll buy that for a dollar!" Sorry that's the only line I remember.
Credit: Mariana Braga / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tom Gantert at Michigan Capitol Confidential, a blog for the free-market think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy, takes note of a problem with those who keep repeating numbers about how many police officers have been cut in Detroit. The city doesn't seem to actually know how many police department employees it has or what it is these employees are doing:

[T]he city's 2003 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report states there were 4,810 uniform police officers that year. However, the city's 2012 CAFR lists the city as having 3,981 uniform police officers in 2003 and then two pages later has the city with 3,965 uniform police officers in 2003.

And the confusion is more than just an accounting hiccup.

The city's Emergency Manager Review Team report stated that regarding police operations, "operational dysfunction contributes to the city's serious financial problem."

The emergency manager's report found that the city's police department had about 2,030 employees in 2012. However, city officials and police department officials couldn't agree to just what those 2,030 employees did. City officials stated that only 33 percent of the police department's employees were involved in patrolling the city. The rest were involved in "ancillary administrative functions" such as payroll.

Police department officials claimed that 68 percent of its workforce was involved in patrol work and another 15 percent were involved in investigations.

The team putting together the emergency manager's report was unable to resolve the discrepancies and could not find any reliable information of what staffing levels are or are supposed to be.

Read Gantert's whole piece here.

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  1. I assume they’re trying to see how much time the can spend as far as possible from Detroit and still get paid.

  2. …operational dysfunction contributes to the city’s serious financial problem.

    That’s a stupid admission. They should have said the city’s serious financial problems contribute to the operational dysfunction. Anyway, they were probably just accidentally including Red Wings defensemen in the count.

    1. All they have to do is count the number of dead dogs and divide by 3.

  3. He looked a lot like Che Guevara,
    Drove a diesel van.
    Kept his gun in quiet seclusion,
    Such a humble man.
    The only survivor of the National People’s Gang.
    Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph.
    He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone.

    Panic in Detroit.

    He laughed at accidental sirens that broke the evening
    The police had warned of repercussions.

    They followed none too soon.
    A trickle of strangers were all that were left alive.
    Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph.
    He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone.

    Panic in Detroit.

    Putting on some clothes I made my way to school,
    And I found my teacher
    Crouching in his overalls.

    I screamed, and ran to smash my favorite slot machine,
    And jumped the silent cars that slept at traffic lights.

    Having scored a trillion dollars,
    Made a run back home.

    Found him slumped across the table.
    A gun and me alone.
    I ran to the window. Looked for a plane or two.
    Panic in Detroit..
    He’d left me an autograph.
    “Let me collect dust.”
    I wish someone would phone.

    Panic in Detroit.

  4. See what happens when you cut government to the bone!

  5. The rest were involved in “ancillary administrative functions” such as payroll.

    I didn’t realize collecting paychecks is considered a job.

  6. It’s Detroit, right? Playground for Big Union, right?

    So when you see a report that Detroit has 3,965 police officers, and it has 4,810 police officers, well, the natural conclusion is that there are 3,965 people who actually put on a uniform and do some policing, and 845 no-show featherbedding positions on the payroll.

    1. Only 845? Color me unconvinced.

    2. You left out the 15% no-work positions.

  7. City officials stated that only 33 percent of the police department’s employees were involved in patrolling the city. The rest were involved in “ancillary administrative functions” such as payroll.

    *bangs head on desk repeatedly*

  8. Some functions are too important to be left to private enterprise.

    That’s what I have been told.

  9. It’s going to be exactly like Robocop first and then degenerate into The Crow

  10. Scott Shackford, in response to your excellent alt text:

    “Come along quietly, or there’ll be….trouble.”

    “Well, it looks like we’re gonna be friends after all….Richard.”


    “They’ll fix you. They can fix anything.”


    “YOU’RE FIRED” “Thank you” *shoots ‘Dick’ four times and sends him crashing out the window*

    Those should be pretty close – hth

  11. But the real cause of Detroit’s demise is urban sprawl. Yeah, that’s it.

    1. The first rule of Detroit is that we never talk about Detroit.

    2. Is Krugabe the cause of economic stupidity or the effect of economic stupidity.

      I’m going with effect. While I’m 99% sure Krugabe is an idiot, I still can’t blame him for giving his customers what they want.

  12. Does anybody really know how many cops?
    Does anybody really care?
    If so, I can’t imagine why.
    We’ll all blame markets anyway.

  13. Who’d have guessed that Robocop was the best-case scenario for Detroit?

    1. The sweet unrealized future that could have been.

  14. Mackinac Center for Public Police

    Ermmm…? Policy, perhaps?

  15. Detroit is a classic example of democracy providing the magical feedback mechanism that makes government work for the people.

    Will the the people who claim that libertarianism works in theory but not in practice please explain how the reality of Detroit doesn’t trash their own concepts for how government solve problems, and how democracy keeps it in check.

    1. Their concepts would work if it wasn’t for those tens of millions of libertarians ruining their efforts.

  16. Sometimes dude,yo ujsut gotta roll with the punches.

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