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Posted on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor mayor on next year's budget: 'We won't be making any cuts in the police department'

By Ryan J. Stanton

The retirement of nine senior members of the Ann Arbor Police Department — each with 23 years of experience on average — leaves city officials looking to hire.

Mayor John Hieftje said the city plans to quickly fill those vacancies. But beyond that, city officials are talking about increasing police staffing levels in the spring.

If that happens, that would reverse a long trend of continued cuts that have significantly reduced the city's police force over the last decade.

"I said last May when we concluded the budget that it was our job to see no more cuts in the police department, and we're going to be able to do that," Hieftje said.


Mayor John Hieftje said it's his goal to not only avoid further cuts to the Ann Arbor Police Department, but also increase staffing in the spring.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We're not going to be making the cuts that were predicted in next year's budget," he said. "And the second task that I'm determined to get done is to actually bring in a few more police officers so that we can make sure we have a few more downtown when the weather gets warm."

Police Chief Barnett Jones said in an email on Friday he believes the department's full-time employee count now sits at 167, and 118 of those are sworn officers.

The department had more than 240 full-time employees a decade ago.

The City Council approved trimming 13 positions from the department's budget earlier this year, and a tentative plan for next year involved cutting 12 more in the spring.

But thanks to an estimated $500,000 savings from the upcoming outsourcing of the city's police dispatch operations, and potentially as much as $450,000 in savings from recent concessions made by the police officers union, suddenly the $1.1 million budget reduction target Jones was looking at for next year doesn't look as daunting.

"So we can say unequivocally at this point — at least I can certainly say, and I think the council members are with me on this — that we won't be making any cuts in the police department that are called for in our budget for next year," Hieftje said. "Even though crime is down, and crime is way down, we want to hold the line on the police department."

Ann Arbor officials say they didn't experience the rush of retirements they thought might be coming before the end of this calendar year.

In all, only 10 of about 700 full-time city employees are hanging up their hats this month, including the nine in the police department.

The other employee retiring is an administrative support specialist in the community services division.

"We were expecting more retirees out of our management and nonunion staff, and that did not occur as of Dec. 31," said City Administrator Steve Powers.

Ann Arbor officials originally thought there might be more retirements because newly negotiated employee contracts take effect Jan. 1, and retirement benefits for those who retire after that point will be less than if they retire by the end of the year.

A handful of other city employees announced their retirements in recent months, including Sue McCormick, the city's public services area administrator. Roger Fraser, who was the city's top administrator for nine years, also left last spring to take a new job with the state.

That loss of institutional knowledge has left the city in a transitional period, and for the first time in recent memory, the City Council cancelled its annual December budget retreat this month.


City Administrator Steve Powers asked the City Council to hold off on having its annual budget retreat this month.

Ryan J. Stanton |

That's to give Powers, who started on the job Sept. 15, more time to get up to speed. The council still plans to discuss and act on the proposed 2012-13 budget like it traditionally does in the spring, but Powers acknowledged earlier this month — due to his learning curve — he wanted the council to hold off on having its annual budget retreat this month.

Craig Hupy, Ann Arbor's field operations manager, is taking over for McCormick as interim public services administrator effective Dec. 17, Powers said.

While the city has seen a notable loss of institutional knowledge, Hieftje said he isn't worried about the retirements in the police department.

"They've been here a long time and they were going to retire at some point anyway," he said. "I don't think the chief and the deputy chiefs are really concerned about that. I think they're looking forward to having some new officers coming into town."

And it's likely there'll be savings in payroll as new officers are expected to hire in at a lower rate of pay.

Hieftje said the last he had checked the city had more than 400 applications for police officer positions. He said first dibs go to those officers laid off earlier this year.

"We're going to be able to choose from a large pool of experienced officers, so nobody will be green," he said. "Nobody will be just out of the academy, as far as I can tell at this point. It's possible, and if there are a few of those, that's fine. But we're going to be keeping several veteran officers with us — folks with 20 years in — and I think they're going to pick it up."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Michael Christie

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

They should be listening...I've called at least 12 times about the Liberty Plaza alone in 2011. Keep calling and reporting, it's the only way they will get our message. I also heard that if there's an accident, 2 traffic stops, 1 domestic issue, that there's only 3 squad cars to cover the city...Anyone else know this to be true?

Jerome Blue

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

Too little too late for him to get my vote again.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

Retiring after less than 20 years of work? They must have negotiated that deal from the point of a gun that they've been larding around town whilst giving out speeding tickets.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

Oh let's see Mike, how about 23 years police. 8 years military. How about 23 years at aapd, 5 years at a different police department. Before you freak out, you can combine your years of service for prior police but it DOES NOT go towards your retirement pay. It's at a reduced amount. Make sense?

Ellis Sams

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

I am shocked, saddened and disappointed that the city plans to hire police officers when the money could be used to fund public art projects. What kind of message are we sending?

G. Orwell

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

I hope the mayor hires police officers that know and will keep their oath to defend the Constitution.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Why is that? Are you aware of any AAPD officers who have broken oaths to defend the Constitution? Please advise of specific facts, if so.

Rod Johnson

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Just want to point out that "each with 23 years of experience on average" makes no sense.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

This is good news for so many of our posters! Job openings that they can apply for, requesting a lower wage and no benefits. We know that many posters are firmly convinced that municipal employees are WAY, WAY overpaid and under worked, especially union members like police officers. Now is the chance for them to step up to the plate and show the remaining employees how it can be done cheaper, better, faster and without collective bargaining. Can't wait to see the applications flow! IF you are one of The Whiners that has repeatedly called for reduced budgets, reduced benefits and wages for government workers, please let us know when you submit your application to be one of Ann Arbors newest crop of cops so we can follow your progress!!!


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

How cool would it be to hire police and firemen with fine arts degrees, who could create public art while drawing only time and a half overtime?? If i were younger i'd sign up for that job, being both a sculptor and supportive of law and order...

Silly Sally

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

It is a shame that the retirement was not known sooner, so these oficers who were laid off,and now to be re-hired, were never laid off to start with. Sure, they can be re-hired, but the damage has been done. This is very poor planning. I hope that we have more officers walking a beat late at night in higher crime areas such as South U and not maning speed traps such as State St. (Howard Cooper) on a Sunday morning or Huron Drive north of Washtenaw.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

I'm not sure what police Clinton brought in ?? we have 118 vs. 240 when Heifjte came into office 10 years ago. With the police reporting structure crimes on campus are reported compiled seperatly so it maybe a false sense of security that crime has gone down when you have 2 possibly 3 or 4 (state and county) reporting crimes in A2 seperatly - jus sayin

Silly Sally

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

The retirement policies that the City of Ann Arbor put in place must have led to so many police officers deciding to retire at the same time. They must have some end of the year change, makeing it less beneficial to retire later. The odds of so many retiring at once are far too low for this to be random. It wistheir policy that is driving this. If Clinton really reduced crime in Ann Arbor, then why is it not much higher now with fewer cops? Something else is contributing. The crimes on South U that I'm referring to are the armed robberies that I am always reading about, or the fights, or beatings. The speed traps are for teh illegal speed limit of 35 MPH, per Michigan state law, on Huron Street. If it were about safety, they would target jaywalkers downtown who step in front of cars that have a green light or cars that turn left from the right lane.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

These retiring officers will not be rehired. Facts please. People don't, and aren't required to give lengthy retirement notice. What loyalty has the City Council shown to the Police Department to be deserving of their respect? You do realize speeding is a crime that can kill?


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

How do you know when a person is going to retire? Tell us all oh wise one. People decide to retire, the city has no idea when that will happen. I guess the people who retired are the selfish ones who didn't give people a years advance notice? You and your like complain ALL the time. When will you provide a solution. By the way, in the last decade the crime rate has gone down in Ann Arbor. It went down when Clinton brought more officers on the streets. You won't accept facts, because it does not follow your talking points. By the way, "speed traps" are there to prevent speeding, which is a crime. It can kill somebody much quicker than the high crime area on South U where the crimes are MIP, and public urination, which hurt nobody.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Best wishes to those officers who will be retiring. And, a big thank you for serving our great city - Ann Arbor. Now, I wish the mayor and the council would start doing the same -- serving our Great City.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

You have to wonder when will all the city job cutting reach a point of diminishing returns? Will people want to move to Ann Arbor if it is perceived as just another industrial midwest city?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

There's Ann Arbor and the Univ. of Michigan....and always the twain shall meet

shadow wilson

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

To answer your question ; yes. Ann Arbor is not an industrial town. And so far the quality of life has not been compromised significantly.......and the Univ attracts obviously the cream of the crop........I do worry about police response times as they can not be what they once were with numbers being down as they are now.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

Thank you to the retiring public safety officers for all of your great years of service to the citizens of the City of Ann Arbor. We will miss you as great people, as well as seasoned professionals. To the mayor: You have achieved your goal. The staffing level of the police force now matches its morale. You've cut the arms, legs, and heart from our prized marathon runner. Now, you're surprised that we can no longer race? Please, do us a great public service favor and seek retirement for yourself.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

great how about the art commission. they can buy pictures at lowes and save money. put them back into the street budget.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

our fearless leader now cloaks himself in the light of concerned politician making good on promises and even going above and beyond. so touching. just a pity that he also is the one who decimated public safety and likes to tell citizens that crime is down and you are nuts if you think differently. great how there will be more cops working beats come summer just in time to try to bleach mayor hieftje's tarnished image before elections. and this cheap move will work because you will all go vote this self serving joker right back into office again.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Just like Clinton's surplus was a flash in the pan due to Bush's two unjustified Wars, costing $5 trillion and thousands of American lives ?

Silly Sally

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

This is just like Bill Clinton's 100,000 police officers flash-in-a-pan publicity stunt

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:04 p.m.

It sounds as though Steve Powers, our new city administrator, is listening to our concerns about police staffing, public safety and the need for more police officers downtown.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

That would be a nice change since the Mayor and his Cabal don't listen, but they will hear our voice during the next election.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:02 p.m.

Little more than a decade ago there was no U_M police force and that work was done by the municipal police. Does an increased crime rate justify more police?


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Crime rates are lower, not higher.