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Flint police chief: 65 more officers needed to properly protect and serve the city

(WJRT)
Published: May. 29, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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(5/29/2020) - In Flint, Police Chief Phil Hart said there is one police officer for every 919 people in the city.

That’s a stark difference to other large cities. He explained Detroit has one officer for every 303 community members.

As the Flint City Council works to finalize the budget, there's a last minute push to set aside money for more officers.

“Chief, we have to see if we can help the police department,” Councilman Eric Mays said.

Mays asked Hart how many more officers he needs to properly protect and serve the city of Flint if money wasn't an issue.

“I would ask for probably another 50 sir,” Hart said.

Mays explained each officer costs about $100,000. A request for 50 more officers means allocating $5 million more to the department.

But, Mays said he knows that's not going to slide. So, he made an amendment proposing $1 million to the police department for 10 more patrol officers.

It's just a hope, Mays said. It’s not set in stone.

“I mean, I get calls, we call the police and they don't show up. We call the police and they don't show up,” Mays said. “I know we can call 911 and they say somebody got shot, three cars tied up. You know, I'm pushing for 20. I ain’t at your 50, but I will make a good faith effort.”

The two agreed they can't add more patrol officers without considering adding more detectives.

“I'm going to tell you, at this point I have 15 up there and I again that, that's another one of those where, if I could have what I wanted double would be the number,” Hart said.

Because with more officers on the road, more complaints will be handed over to the detectives. So Mays questioned the chief on what's needed to help speed up the process of writing reports.

He suggested technology. Hart suggested more secretaries.

Again, this is all just a conversation about possible amendments to the mayor's budget proposal. Council members are mandated to adopt the budget on Monday. Their changes will go to Mayor Sheldon Neeley, who has the power to veto.

This hope to allot 65 new positions in the budget is on top of the 19 open positions the police department already has money for, but hasn't filled. The city has said the new union contracts should make the job more appealing and increase the number of applicants.

Neeley's spokeswoman, Marjory Raymer, provided this statement in response to the Councilman and Chief Hart’s conversation:

“The proposed budget invests in the City of Flint Police Department to help hire 19 new officers. These are long-vacant positions and filling them will be a major boost for our department. The proposed budget includes salary increases, especially for starting officers, to help fill these positions. Aside from a mandatory $10 million investment in the City of Flint’s pension plan, departmental funding increases are very rare in this budget so this investment in the City of Flint police Department is significant. This is a balanced budget and a fiscally responsible budget. Like all communities, we continue to face significant uncertainty because of the many uncertainties we face during this ongoing pandemic. The proposed budget preserves a $6.3 million fund budget while also meeting a portion of the city’s pension obligation, fulfilling additional Charter requirements, and protecting City employees.”

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