Since 2000, Detroit has lost almost 50 percent of its patrol officers and in the past three years, ranks have decreased by 37 percent. According to CBS Detroit, the shortage is so bad that precincts are left with one squad car at times.
“This is a crisis, and the dam is going to break,” Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, said in a statement. “It’s a Catch-22: I know the city is broke, but we’re not going to be able to build up a tax base of residents and businesses until we can provide a safe environment for them.”
An important fact to consider is that Detroit’s population has experienced drastic fluctuation over the years. As of today, the city has a 448 to 1 citizen-to-officer ratio. This breakdown shows compares the number of officers to Detroit residents:
- 1920: 897 officers — population of 993,678
- 1930: 3,141 officers — population of 1,568,662
- 1950: 3,548 officers — population of 1,849,568
- 1970: 3,973 officers — population of 1,511,482
- 1990: 3,312 officers — population of 1,027,974
- 2000: 3,139 officers — population of 951,270
- 2015: 1,590 officers — population of 719,777
The department has also been the victim of budget cuts.
“These officers do the most difficult job in the country, and they need to get paid more,” said Chief James Craig. “It’s hard to keep people when other cities can offer so much more money.”
Craig is attempting to get more officers in, even if it’s at a slower pace than he would like.
“Certainly the mayor and I have lots of discussions on what right sizing the police department should look like. I know that we’re looking at adding roughly 480 additional officers into the field. What could I do with that? I could do more,” he said.
These 480 officers include new recruits and officers currently on administrative duties. There is a possibility that these officers could be reassigned to the streets if the department can find citizens to take up their responsibilities.