Detroit, a city which has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S., does not have a big enough police force to deal with security after losing more than 35 percent of its police officers in the last three years.
President of the Detroit Police Officers Association Mark Diaz said “This is a crisis, and the dam is going to break. 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.”
At present there are fewer police officers on patrol in Detroit than at any time since the 1920s. Once its police force numbered more than 5000 officers - today its just 1,590 and out of that number sit behind desks rather than patrol the city streets. The situation is so dire that at times some precincts have only one patrol car.
Budget cuts have forced layoffs but many officers have also left to work in other cities or have found new occupations.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig who came to the city via jobs in Portland, Maine and Los Angeles said “These officers do the most difficult job in the country, and they need to get paid more. “It’s hard to keep people when other cities can offer so much more money.”
He said he was making some progress with recruitment efforts but not at the speed he would like and needs to.
"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.
The 480 Craig speaks off include officers currently on administrative duties and new recruits. At present 15 percent of the city's police force have desk jobs but many of those officers could be put out on street patrol if qualified citizens could be found to take over some of their tasks.