Less is more 

At first, the scene was a happy one. Residents crowded into southwest Detroit’s BUOY 3 community center last Wednesday in their Pistons championship T-shirts, discussing the previous night’s victory.

But the mood quickly turned to one of frustration as Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings began to provide details of the upcoming merger of the 3rd and 4th police Precincts, which currently cover nearly 20 square miles on the city’s southwest side. Many residents and business owners who are concerned about the pending closure of the 3rd Precinct were unsatisfied with the answers they received from the new chief, who tried to assure them that service would not be diminished.

It sounds like they’re thinning out the resources for a larger geographical area,” said Matthew Aldridge, of the Hubbard Richard Citizen’s District Council and a resident of the current 3rd Precinct.

The merger, set to be implemented in July, will move 4th Precinct operations into 3rd Precinct headquarters until the completion of a new public safety mall on West Fort Street next year; lines for the 1st, 10th and new 4th Precincts will be redrawn.

Prior to the meeting, Bully-Cummings asked that all questions be submitted in writing so she would be able to provide better answers. But she allowed questions from the floor, doing everything she could to assure the approximately 90 people in attendance that the precinct merger and the public safety mall construction are being done “in the best interest of the citizens that we serve.”

Cops gathered in the back of the room weren’t so sure. They’re concerned that an increase in precinct size will hamper their ability to adequately patrol their communities and provide backup for one another.

“Everybody’s going to be scrambling, it’s just not safe,” says 4th Precinct officer Michael Reizin after the meeting. “When you do a job like we have, you can’t do trial by error because that one error could cost you your life.”

Cummings says she would deal with officer concerns at a later meeting, but made sure to remind them of her time on the force, telling one: “I’ve worked the streets. I’ve been on this job much longer than you have.”

Sort of like a scolding parent responding to questioning kids by saying, “I’m the adult here, so quit asking questions and just do as I say because, well, because I’m the adult.”

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