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Posted on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti police chief supports hybrid model, says city must restructure

By Katrease Stafford


Ypsilanti police Chief Amy Walker said she supports the hybrid model for the police and fire departments.

Melanie Maxwell |

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information from City Manager Ralph Lange about the leadership component of the model.

As Ypsilanti moves toward a hybrid model for its police and fire departments to reduce expenses, police Chief Amy Walker said she supports the effort.

"With the budget constraints Mr. (Ralph) Lange looked at, I think earnestly he's just trying to find a solution," Walker said. "So public safety is the avenue we're looking at. ... At the end of the day, we have to do something."


The Ypsilanti Police Department's staffing levels have decreased.

File photo

Lange, the city manager, told the city is looking at Walker as a likely candidate to be director of public safety and police chief.

"Clearly she knows a lot about public safety," he previously said.

The hybrid model in Ypsilanti would have separate police and fire departments with an "adequate" number of firefighters to respond to daily service demands. Under the direction of a new public safety director, who will also serve as police chief, there will be a deputy police chief and a fire chief.

"We are intending to keep the position of Fire Chief because we will continue to maintain a part of the public safety division that is dedicated to maintaining a center of excellence for fire and EMT services and related skill sets," Lange said.

Ypsilanti has hired Anthony DeGiusti of the Wayne Police Department as the city's new deputy police chief. DeGiusti will be paid $77,500 annually and he'll start at the department on Feb. 18.

Walker said she hasn't received any specific resistance to the model.

"Have I seen or heard any major rally cry? No, I haven’t," Walker said. "I don’t think he’s seen a huge backlash. I think the public safety model has worked in some cases. If that's the direction the city manager goes, I support it."

The model would be coupled with a larger police department that would have a certain number of cross-trained officers that have been trained and equipped to respond to major fire incidents whenever the fire department is busy or on another run.

Some members of the fire department have openly criticized the idea of going to a public safety-type model.

"What is wrong with saying let's take a look at a half model when there's no money at the end of the day," Walker said. "What are the other options? Let's just do something. With three people on a shift, it's not a good situation. We have burnout and overtime."

Retired Ypsilanti fire Chief Jon Ichesco has said the city should put its efforts toward regionalization.

Lange recently confirmed that the city has declined to move in the direction of regionalization with Ypsilanti Township.

"Mr. Lange has certainly been trying to work with the unions," Walker said. "When you're burning everyone out, you have to look at a different option. Is anything set in stone? No."

Walker said with this model, all of the firefighters would keep their jobs.

"The idea is they're going to keep the firefighters," she said. "The big change is going to be for the police officers that are being trained. That takes time."

With Ichesco retiring Dec. 31, Walker said it was the "perfect storm." Capt. Max Anthouard was named interim chief Dec. 20.


City Manager Ralph Lange sits at a city council meeting in this file photo.

"With the fire chief leaving, now is really the time to explore merging the two departments," she said.

Walker said the model will help further the city's efforts to maintain services, while reducing costs.

"We hear that we're falling over the cliff," Walker said. "Mr. Lange came in and said we're not going to fall over the cliff in two years. He's bringing hope to the employees. It's certainly not an easy transition and these things take time. They certainly need community input as this develops."

Walker said one of her concerns with the model is she wants to make sure the amount of officers per shift is at an adequate level.

The department is currently staffed by 25 sworn officers and four civilians. This represents a decrease from two years ago when the force was made up of 40 sworn officers and nine civilian employees.

A SEMCOG report shows the reduction in staffing was necessary due to declining tax revenue, but the reduction has had a major impact on service delivery, department morale and overtime expenses. The police department accounts for about $5 million of the city's general fund.

The latest SEMCOG data from 2011 show that with a population of 19,435 people, Ypsilanti has 12.8 officers per 10,000 residents, which is well below the benchmark of 16. Two years ago, the department had 20.5 officers per 10,000 residents.

The benchmark number of dispatched calls per officer also has been affected. The department handles about 20,000 calls per year, with 800 being handled by each officer. SEMCOG said this is far above the average of 570.

"We cannot continue to have three officers per shift," Walker said. "We need to make sure we can say we can do that successfully. How many on the shift, that’s an equation that we’re trying to figure out."

Total fire and medical training expenses per officer may cost $33,174, according to SEMCOG.

"There may not be a cost savings initially, but agencies overall see a 20 percent reduction when it's up and running," Walker said.

Walker said the city has applied for a grant that would possibly alleviate the costs associated with this model.

"There are grants out there and we want to try to recoup some of that," Walker said. "This is the type of consolidation the government is looking at."

The model is something that the city council will have to approve down the line. Walker said if this model is something that the city will move toward, she believes both departments would try to make it work.

"I'm confident in our fire and police departments that we can do it," Walker said. "What that model looks like is to be determined. I’ve always had a good relationship with the fire department. This is just a good time to explore the option for the sustainiblity of the city."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


ms 2013

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

they need to catch all the dopedealers in ypsi


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Walker is a good police chief and does a great job. But, if we are going to do through with this system, why not hire someone who has done the job of running a blended service before? The more we hear about this more it just seems that Lange is being stubborn and doing what he wants. And the city council just sits by and waits for him to call out marching orders.

Glen S.

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

As Ms. Stafford points out, the key word in this article is "adequate." While I respect Chief Walker's opinion ... I have to say I think this is a terrible idea. Bottom line: Ypsilanti residents need and deserve both a fully-functioning police department and fire department. While we're at it, we also need to re-examine the decision to join the regional "metro dispatch." In my neighborhood we have had a recent spate of increasingly brazen break-ins. Clearly we need more, not fewer, police on each shift. Likewise, we need to move dispatch back under local control in order to improve service and return response times back to where they were before the switch. I fully understand the City's budget challenges, but I agree with former Chief Ichesco that the focus should continue to be finding ways to regionalize fire services to save money. I'm disappointed that Mr. Lange and some member of Council have decided to rule out further efforts in this direction in favor of moving forward with the so-called "hybrid" model. Whether it is through regionalizing fire services, raising additional revenue, or some other mechanism, I believe we have to find a way to maintain public safety services that are not only "adequate" from a budgetary perspective, but also in terms of public safety and community quality-of-life. I don't see how expecting our public servants to do what amount to TWO highly dangerous, highly stressful jobs at once is going to achieve that.

Glen S.

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

@ Steve. Last night, there was a community meeting to discuss the recent rash of break-ins in our neighborhood. Several people in the room (including me) expressed concern that response times seemed to be longer under the new system - and the police officers who there confirmed it. Just last weekend, I called the non-emergency number to report a person acting suspiciously in front of my house, and while giving my report to the dispatcher, I was put on hold -- then got disconnected. I called back, but got a different dispatcher, and so had to tell the whole story again. By the time all of this happened, the guy I called to report was long gone. It is possible all of these instances are merely anecdotal, but I have a feeling they're not.

Steve McKeen

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

The city of Ann Arbor recently merged their dispatch with the County. You support regionalization except when it comes to Ypsilanti's dispatch? And stop your lies about response times increasing. You have no proof and therefore shouldn't be trying to scare the community with outlandish lies.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Please no. Just merge the fire department with the township. Better service for cheaper.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:08 a.m. Either that story is a fabrication or the good leaders of Ypsi Township (I am a township resident) seem to want to explore this. But the all knowing city manager shot it down without presenting it to the city council.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

No. The people in the township do not want to merge their fire department with a city that can't afford to pay their fair share. It is not the township's responsibility to pay for city services. Why don't you supplement professional fire fighters with a volunteer force?


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

The people want it. The townships want it. Everyone wants it but the city manager and the council is to afraid to tell him to pursue or even look into it. I lived in a city with a combined force and it was fine. Fire service was quick, police were as well. It's a decent system. But if you have the ability to merge costs with other entities and to forge a little solidarity with them, why not look into it?

Megan Turf

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Mistake. Mistake, mistake, mistake. The first fire where they're sharing? We need cameras and video to clearly show the cops changing their pants while property burns and people die. "Adequate" is a very scary term. And talk about burn out? Not only do you have to do your original job, now you get to do even more! Paying cops to be firefighters is not going to be cheaper than just hiring more fire fighters when you take into account loss of property and loss of life and citizens suing the city for this crap decision. So what's the policy if the three officers on duty are already busy on a call? Do they just get to skip the fire? Do they have to leave the police call they're on? This is bs. Regionalization is the way to go. I think it's pathetic that the expert in all of this (Ichesco) is being ignored just so cops can get more money. Pathetic. And the citizens are going pay for this tomfoolery in loss of property and loss of life.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Another question would be, how will PSO affect any existing Mutual Aid agreements? Will the PSO officers leave their Police duties to respond to a neighboring department for a fire? If they don't, will the "adequate" number from YFD meet the agreed resource levels in the Mutual aid pact? If they do, who patrols the city?

Katrease Stafford

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Interesting questions, Megan. As the model continues to take shape, I'll be sure to try to address this. I do want to point out that during my interview with Chief Walker, she expressed that if a partnership was further pursued between the city and a neighboring municipality, she would have supported that effort as well.

Steve McKeen

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

All Lang has done since coming to Ypsilanti is make more managers and fewer workers. Council made a mistake in hiring him and I hope the voters agree by voting them all out of office. Or recall. That's an even better idea.

One eyed man

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

5 million for 25 cops!!!!!!!! Can you say sheriffs office?


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

There is a reason that Ypsilanti Township pays roughly the same amount but has more officers on the street. Facts are facts.

ypsi 1

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

5 million is the total figure sir. Not just wages, its insurance, pensions and the whole police expense. And ahi and Ms Turf are correct, Sheriffs were $20-30 grand higher.

One eyed man

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Ahi is Absolutely incorrect. Ck your facts. The township pays the same amount with about 10 more deputies, a swat team, a detective bureau, dive team and no legacy costs.

Megan Turf

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

ahi is right. They are cheaper than the sheriff's office. They've done a study. Twice.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

They are cheaper than the sherriffs office.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

I still think the city manager needs to go and turn the control of the city over to the mayor that was elected to do so. They say they have no money and are applying for grants to help pay to cross train police officers to be firefighters. Ummmmm Hello?????????? Wake up city council, there are also grants out there that will help pay for personnel so we can be at a better staffing position. Does anybody know how to write a petition that would possibly work at getting Mr. City Manager either out of the office or make him cut his and the Mayor and City Council paychecks in half. Someone go knock on the Mayors office and see if he will talk to you like a mayor should.

Duc d'Escargot

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

'I" before "e" except after "c" or if the sound is like "neighbor" or "weigh." For "e" is the sailor that follows the "c." Geez.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

It's too bad that the leadership of this city of Ypsilanti are not addressing the fiscal problems that we face. Others seem to be willing to embrace alternative ideas that can reduce costs, but the leadership continues to ignore this reality. Maybe the voters will wake up before it's too late. Move over Detroit! Here we come! Amy is wise to publicly embrace new ideas. Too bad her leadership could not rub off on others. Go figure!

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

is it just me or does the word 'adequate' sound scary when it comes to either fd or pd on for a shift?