Sparks flew last week when City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail proposed allowing off-duty Detroit police officers to moonlight in uniform at events such as the North American International Auto Show and Red Wings games.
That idea drew the unfettered ire of Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, who dressed down Marty Bandemer, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association. Bandemer, pushing the proposal, said Detroit’s 3,000 officers are the lowest paid in Michigan. Instead of making extra money from event promoters, on-duty police are pulled from their shifts to supplement private security.
McPhail’s proposal would save the city money while putting more cash into the pockets of cops, argued Bandemer.
Cockrel said she agrees Detroit police should be paid more, but said issues of liability, safety, training, record-keeping and the U.S. Justice Department probe into Detroit police practices must be addressed first.
“If we weren’t spending hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits because of police misconduct … we’d have more money to spend on police salaries,” Cockrel said. Bandemer shot back: “You bring up the $123 million. Well that’s for lawsuits dating back 13 years. We spent $156 million on Dreams, and that has been a total flop and failure,” said Bandemer, referring to DRMS, the city’s problem-ridden computer system. “These officers keep going out on the streets every day and risk their lives, and they don’t even know if their next paycheck is going to come on time,” said Bandemer, clearly emotional. Earlier he had thanked council members for attending the recent funeral of slain Detroit Police Officer Michael Scanlon.
Cockrel retorted, “Dreams doesn’t kill people or maim them for life, or put people in wheelchairs or affect families.”
Conspicuously absent during the meeting was new Police Chief Jerry Oliver, who did not immediately return calls from News Hits seeking his stance. Oliver allowed moonlighting when he was chief in Richmond, Va. In fact, according to McPhail, New York City is one of the few other major cities that bans moonlighting.
The council is to vote this week on McPhail’s resolution directing the Board of Police Commissioners to draft a policy allowing moonlighting. We expect the fireworks to fly again.Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]