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Posted on Thu, May 5, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Laying off more cops in Ann Arbor is a bad move

By Rich Kinsey

In 1962, President Kennedy addressed the graduating class at West Point and quoted a line carved by an anonymous soldier in a guardhouse in Gibraltar.

The line read, “God and the soldier all men adore, in time of trouble and no more. For when war is over and all things righted, God is neglected and the old soldier slighted.”

That quote is true for military personnel and for paramilitary organizations like the police as well.

That same year President Kennedy signed a law making May 15th of every year Peace Officer's Memorial Day and the week surrounding that date Police Week. This year Police Week will be May 15-22.

It is sadly ironic that on the second day of Police Week, the Ann Arbor City Council will vote on a budget that will necessitate the layoff of police officers.

The State of Michigan is clearly in financial crisis and, necessarily, Ann Arbor and other local governments have seen state funding slashed.

However the loss of more police officers from an agency that has already been cut by more than a third is a bad idea. The officers and civilian employees of the police department who face layoffs are all experienced professionals.

The sworn officers who would be affected by proposed layoffs have between 5 and 9 years of police experience in Ann Arbor and most were veteran officers at other departments before joining the Ann Arbor Police Department. That is a tremendous loss of talent to the city and to the state, because most will move to Texas or the Southwest to find other law enforcement jobs.

What this means to the citizens is that non-emergency police services will suffer and crime rates will rise. The officers will still respond almost as quickly to emergencies, but, once the scene is stabilized, will not spend as much time on follow up investigation. Expeditious follow up investigations are crucial to solving crimes.

The best time to collect information about a crime is while all the principals, including witnesses are at the scene. Memories of the incident are freshest and all involved are in one place at one time. After the incident is over, all involved scatter. Re-contact and follow up investigation is much more time consuming, costly and ineffective than good on-scene investigation.

At the very least, initial officers must try to gather the names, addresses and phone numbers of the people at the scene, in order to make re-contact possible. The initial officers may not be able to get this basic information, if they are called away to another emergency. If that happens, contrary to the numerous fictional CSI miracles on television, the possibility of solving the crime diminishes tremendously.

Furthermore if there are layoffs in the police department, detectives will have to be pulled back to patrol duty. Fewer detectives will cause supervisors to assign only the cases that are already solved by arrests or “easily” solved. The cases that require knocking on doors and other follow up by detectives will only be assigned if they are of a serious or violent nature. The less serious cases that would have been solved in years past go unsolved. Unsolved cases will generate no arrests. Unarrested perpetrators will continue to commit crimes and the crime rate will rise.

Ann Arbor has been lucky for the past several years. The crime rate has remained flat or decreased because of more efficient allocation of police resources. This has prompted some politicians to make comments like, “Less police, less crime … Hmmm?” Those politicians understandably ask, “How low can we go?” Clearly they are watching the crime statistics to answer that question, but that is a dangerous tactic.

Unfortunately when crime rates rise, they will rise much more quickly than the police department will be able to backfill its ranks. It takes about 2 years to get an officer on the street and functioning on their own.

The time lag is due to posting the position, position selection, background investigations, academy training, in-house training, field training and supervised probation. This will be necessary because officers with jobs elsewhere will not apply to agencies that have recently experienced layoffs.

It all comes down to priorities. At what point will citizens say enough is enough?

The most important thing a government can do is protect its citizens. At what point will perennial money pits like Huron Hills Golf Course be closed and turned into scenic trails that are cheaper to maintain and better for the environment? At what point will recreational and artistic pursuits be temporarily reduced in order to fund safety services during tough financial periods? Only time will tell.

I hope National Police Week brings some good luck to Ann Arbor’s Finest!

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Mon, May 9, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

The responses here confirm my experience. The taxpayer is feeling rightly abused by speed traps and false claims of enforcement of public safety. Only a contraction of the police force will focus them on their core mission.

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Ridh, Here is a good companion read to the quote you used in your column .... Rudyard Kipling's poem &quot;Tommy&quot;. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

I was rolling down the hill on Main street where the speed limit is 25mph. (next to the old Great Lakes Cyclery) I was stopped for going 31mph in a 25 mph zone and I got a ticket. Technically I was going over the speed limit.... but really?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

From an earlier post I quote. &quot;Another opinion riddled with self interest. Take into account the source.&quot;

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

It seems to be easy for some governments to try and solve their financial problems on the backs of public safety employees. I guess this is because most citizens are not affected by a lack of police officers. It is only noticeable when you need one, and leads citizens to only be able to equate having police protection to the number of times they see them doing traffic enforcement. By the way, the dollar cost of traffic crashes in property damage and injuries far exceeds that of all of the burglaries, larcenies and robberies combined ... Crime rates and statistics are only a small part of the equation, and are easily manipulated. Soon people will find that they are waiting an hour for an officer to come and take the required report for the fender bender they have been involved in and will be outraged. They will also be outraged when they make a call to the police for the very first time because of the loud party next door at 2am and will be told that there are no officers available for &quot;non-priority&quot; call such as that.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

.........and we will (continue to) be even more outraged if they consider speed traps on illegal speed limits a higher priority than either of your two examples.

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

This week, those of us living outside the city in neighboring communities overwhelmingly passed public safety millages to avoid what the city of Ann Arbor is doing to it's police and fire departments. For some reason we seem to have a different perspective on what is important. Even though we are also suffering with the economic downturn, fallen home values, salary and benefit cuts and outrageous gas prices. I think the citizens of Ann Arbor will eventually come to the realization that destroying the police department was not a good strategy. I believe that they will someday come to regret willingly paying to preserve green space outside the city and always supporting any millage request for anything related to parks and bike paths, but do not want to pay for police services. I don't live in Ann Arbor, so it is not my tax money being misused, but I do come to Ann Arbor to shop and spend almost all of my shopping and dining/recreation money in the city. So, the lack of public safety might affect me as well.

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

As I recall, that jail issue occurred at the same time the county was eliminating taxpayer funded county-wide patrols because citizens in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti did not want to pay for deputies they were not using. So what followed out county was the feeling that since the jail population was overwhelmingly made up of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti residents, outlying townships should not have to pay that much for it. I'm not taking a stand on that personally here, though, since that wasn't the issue my posts were about.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

I recall a millage referendum in 2005 i think to build a new jail. It failed by a large % county wide. But if memory serves me the folks in Ann Arbor were slightly in favor. It failed overwhelmingly out county. So I could, (but I'm not) argue that folks out county don't want to support locking up criminals

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Craig, I didn't mean to imply that Ann Arbor voters had a public safety millage to vote on and failed to pass it. My comments are basically driven by everything I read here that seems to indicate that police funding is the last thing people think the city should be spending it's money on.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

In Ann Arbor we didn't reject any public safety millage, there wasn't one on the table. So in that regard I think your criticism is a bit unfair. With respect to the Green Belt thing I agree with you. I voted no and was in the minority.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

On measure I use of excess funding is if I continue to see wasted resources from the agency asking for more money. As long as I see a decent amount of waste, I figure not enough cuts have been made. Along these lines, I continue to see cops hiding out on Huron Parkway trying to enforce a speed limit that has proven to be unenforceable though some court cases in the past year or so. As long as I see this, I figure there are still too many cops. The often played response to this is that the citizens of AA want traffic laws enforced or things of this nature. What they want is speed limits enforced in neighborhoods, around schools, etc. NOT trying to enforce illegal limits or trying to catch the guy rolling slowly through a 4 way stop on a deserted road (or at a 4 way with cross streets closed - true story). So, yep, based on my observations last week, still too many cops in AA. If it wasn't for this, I would agree with Rich.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

If you aren't speeding it isn't a speed trap, why is that so hard for some to understand?


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

Anecdotal indeed, but that is the type of thing I am referring to....and all that effort to enforce a speed limit that is too low and illegal.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

Its anecdotal and happened a few years back now but I remember driving my daughter to work one morning and there were 7 (seven) Ann Arbor police cars running a speed trap on Huron Parkway. One guy was standing on the sidewalk shooting radar and the cars were stacked up like cab drivers at a New York night club waiting their turn.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

While I agree with the &quot;meat and potatoes&quot; of your article Mr. Kinsey, words are cheap. I wonder if, as the saying goes, &quot;your part of the problem or part of the solution&quot;? *Do you live in the city of Ann Arbor and thus contribute to the tax base that must pay for our police? * If the city is paying some or all of your health care are you willing to pay some (more?) of the premium? * Are you on record as being willing to have your pension taxed per Governor Snyder's suggestion? I'm not a golfer and have no personal interest in Huron Hills. I'm not fond of the expensive fountain we are buying The whole &quot;buckets of money&quot; thing bugs me. But these things are only a small part of the bigger solution.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

&quot;That quote is true for military personnel and for paramilitary organizations like the police as well.&quot; Maybe if you are a cop in Detroit but certainly not in Ann Arbor. This bloviating is getting really really tiresome ! Good Day


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

Face it - the state has no money - the taxpayers have no money. Property values have crashed - down by 50% or more. Everyone has had their salaries cut back. This is just like school Unions - the School Union leadership would rather layoff teachers and pay the remaining teachers more - than cutback wages and keep all the teachers. In this way - Union leaders get re-elected because the remaining teachers got raises; and those that were laid off - well they don't vote do they? On the downside - kids have fewer teachers and teachers have more students per class. This plays out every budget year with every Union. It is certainly not the way a school system should be run - nor a police station.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

&quot;Everyone has had their salaries cut back.&quot; Do you REALLY believe this? There are many administrators and legislators in this state that have not taken a cut.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

yohan, re-read the article. It says taht in times of trouble, people look to God AND thier protectors and that when the trouble is gone, people pay less attentino to God AND thier protectors. No where does it say that police officers are God.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

In your opening quote you attempt to equate police officers with God. I would like to disagree,

Boo Radley

Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

The quote does no such thing.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 10:34 a.m.

Another opinion riddled with self interest. Take into account the source.