Policing issue raises a lot of questions

Much has been talked about in town, and all across the country, on whether communities should downsize their police departments.
Some say that instead of having officers answer some calls, it would be better to have social workers handle issues such as family disputes or people just misbehaving.
Recently, our city council rejected two proposals to hire additional police officers, the first proposal called for four officers to be added to the department, and the second proposal requesting just three.
The main reason given for the rejections centered around the cost to the city each year – over $200,000.
For sure, that’s a sizable chunk of change – especially for a city that is in deficit spending, and burning through its budget surplus.
At the rate the city is spending, there is a good chance the budget surplus will be gone by this time next year.
Yet, at the same time, the city just added an additional $180,000 to the budget to cover unexpected police overtime.
Would the hiring of extra officers offset that problem? Would it eliminate overtime? We doubt it.
The alternative that some favor, to hire social workers instead, would also be a cost to the city. And it raises a tangle of questions: How many? Would you have social workers here around the clock?
It’s not a very well thought-out proposal, but one perhaps worth further exploring.
Posted Nov. 19, 2021

2 Responses to Policing issue raises a lot of questions

  1. Mark M. Koroi

    November 25, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    One question is do the police have any say over RoboCop parking meter operations?
    One story had it that the newfangled computerized Sentry parking meters from Municipal Parking Services – which placed Hamtramck in the 21st Century as far as parking meter technology – had issued 1,207 parking violation tickets in ONE DAY. Other stories were that the meters have been a gold mine for city administration.
    While some expressed doubts over the number of actual violations, one Adnan Gobah appeared did before City Council last week and complained that he received some $660.00 in parking violation tickets from these meters and felt it was unfair.
    Merchants have also complained that that the meters are killing customer business. This was also addressed at the City Council meeting.
    What is being done to address these complaints? Can the police or the City Manager make an effort to mitigate citizen and merchant concerns?

  2. Mark M. Koroi

    November 25, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    One problem with the Hamtramck Police department is has been its history of “policing for profit”. Instead of focusing on community policing, the City of Hamtramck has historically embarked on specialty enforcement units whose primary aim is to generate revenue and receive outside funding – often with negative results.
    Hamtramck’s recent “jaywalking enforcement” fiasco is the most recent example of this nonsense. Funded with on outside grant of several thousand dollars it centered ill-advised police scrutiny on residents of a heavily Yemeni-American neighborhood by issuing dozens of jaywalking tickets to “educate” those residents on pedestrian safety.
    The COBRA auto-theft unit was funded by the Michigan Auto Theft Prevention Authority to the tune of about $300,000 per annum and realized about $700,000 per year in revenue from forfeiture operations, turning a regular profit that was shared via monetary distribution by the constituent communities of Ecorse, Highland Park and Hamtramck. When federal civil rights suits were filed the unit was quickly disbanded and the City of Hamtramck to this day is trying to resolve ongoing litigation arising out of COBRA’s operation.
    It is a bad idea to implement police enforcement with the primary goal of realizing city revenue.
    On the other hand, a large percentage of police calls are for matters involving domestic disturbances, substance abuse, mental illness, and conflicts in which a social workers insight could be helpful. The video of a person with mental health issues being manhandled by police begs the question whether a social worker could have done a better job of intervening.
    The City of Hamtramck Police Department needs a restructuring of its operations and policies – which clearly need remedial review.

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