Bing Workplace Dating Directive Aims at 'A Higher Standard of Conduct'

Relationship wrangler surely wasn't among the responsibilities David Bing expected to assume as mayor, but Detroit government brings endless surprises.

After serial embarrassments involving a police force that gives the phrase "internal affairs" a double meaning, Bing on Friday issued rules on interoffice dating. His executive order came two days after a police officer sued the city, claiming the former police chief used his position to gain sexual favors.

Mayor Dave BingBing said he holds "city employees to ensure a higher standard of conduct, in order to ensure a fair, conflict-free workplace." While expressing reluctance to "intrude upon the private lives of its employees," the mayoral directive says some relationships "have the potential to negatively impact working conditions."

It bans inappropriate use of city-issued communications equipment such as cell phones, forbids sexual comments and requires supervisors to disclose relationships with subordinates in writing.

The policy, awaiting approval by the Board of Police Commissioners, follows a string of Police Department sex scandals. The Detroit News gathered reactions to the move:

"Based on what has happened in the Police Department, it probably was a necessary move," said City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, a former deputy chief. "How to enforce it is going to be another issue."

The Rev. Jerome Warfield, chairman of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, said the policy is an "excellent start." But he feels it should also set guidelines for privately owned equipment -- such as sexting or posting embarrassing city information online.

"You want to create a culture change. To do that, you have to go after the vehicles that allow people to go online," Warfield said. "You can't stop relationships on the job, but you can stop the illegal activity" of demanding sex for promotions.

Ralph Godbee Jr. resigned as chief Oct. 8 over a relationship involving Angelica Robinson, an internal affairs officer who sued last week.

Godbee was promoted to chief in 2010 after Warren Evans was fired for having a relationship with a lieutenant, among other things.  

-- A.S.

Read more:  The Detroit News
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