Robocop may not be the only new cop patrolling the streets of Detroit, as there are plans to add more police officers to patrol units in Detroit. Listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the country, crime is a major concern for Detroit. Gary Brown, Detroit City Council president pro tem, and Mayor Dave Bing agree — Detroit needs to get police officers out from behind the desk and onto the streets. Brown is proposing a plan for 600 new cops to be added to the streets while Bing’s current plan calls for about 120 more cops. These plans to add more police officers to the streets of Detroit should be implemented in a cost effective and efficient manner.

Of the 3,000 Detroit police officers currently employed, about a quarter of that number sit at a desk every day. These officers review complaints, guard buildings and courtrooms and fill out paperwork in addition to other standard bureaucratic work. In a city with high crime rates like Detroit, this is not a proper allocation of trained officers. All these tasks can be performed without the use of a gun or police training. Instead of actively working to make the city a safer place to live, these officers are doing administrative tasks that a civilian could reasonably manage.

Both Brown and Bing have presented ideas about cutting costs and adding patrolling officers. Both plans involve employing civilians for jobs that don’t require a badge or gun. Not only would this decrease crime, but it would also help keep the Detroit Police Department’s budget manageable because the civilian workers would have lower wages than the officers. The goal is to decrease response times around the city and increase the rate of criminal convictions without putting a financial burden on taxpayers.

One thing that could stand in the way of implementing these ideas is the labor union. Bing’s office is currently in collective-bargaining talks with union leaders. While it’s important to respect union rights and recognize the importance of collective bargaining, the union leaders need to work with the city to ensure that decisions are being made to ensure safety and also fiscal responsibility.

According to Bing’s office, he hasn’t heard anything from Brown about working on this project. The two offices appear to have independently developed their ideas, but they should work together and implement a plan that will increase the number of cops on Detroit streets.

Any plan that increases the number of Detroit police officers will be a valuable change, as long as it doesn’t impact the budget of an already overburdened city. Hiring citizens to do tasks that don’t require police training, instead of placing trained officers behind desks, is an excellent way to maintain the current budget and expand the police force. Detroit needs to work with the resources it has and allocate the budget in the most efficient way.

On April 12, Bing will reveal his budget for 2011-2012. Those involved in formulating the plan need to implement a law enforcement system that increases patrolling officers and remains within a reasonable budget.

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