Why Can't Snyder and Bing Fix the Detroit Police Department?

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Makeshift shrine set up at liquor store where owner was killed in May (AP Photo)

When Gov. Rick Snyder talks about the need to get Detroit’s books in order, he always mentions how it is also necessary to improve services for Detroit residents.

But how is that going to happen in, say, the police department?

Cops' ranks keep shrinking, their pay keeps getting cut, their equipment continues to deteriorate, and yet in Detroit these days there is an average of one murder, three nonfatal shootings and 35 stolen cars every day.

Shrinking the police department while crime rages does not equal providing better service to Detroiters. Nor does it help extend the Midtown and downtown renaissance to far-flung city neighborhoods. 

Mayor Bing similarly engages in double-talk when he insists “we have not cut” the police department. He repeated that statement Thursday, at the news conference to announce Detroit’s 2012 crime statistics.

“I’ve been very supportive of public safety,’ Bing said.

Maybe you have not laid off cops, yet there are fewer cops today than a year ago, isn’t that right Mr. Mayor?

“That would be true,” Bing admitted.

You had to feel blue inside the mayoral conference room. And it wasn’t just because of the stats, grim as they were. It was because of the picture of the city’s future that emerged from the meeting.

Detroit News update: Bing and Logan are "exploring a massive restructuring" of the force to bolster street patrols by eliminating the gang squad, City Council detail, violent crimes task force, tactical mobile unit and other teams, George Hunter and Christine MacDonald report. 

The interim chief and mayor were right in saying the causes for violence are complex and involve cultural, economic and legal dynamics. And they are right in asking why violence in Detroit is not more of a cause celebre in the city.

"America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit," Logan said.

Indeed, in the past 50 years, 23,237 people have been murdered in Detroit. Four people have died in the first four days of 2013.

Snyder clearly has to see that Detroit doesn’t run out of money. But doesn’t he also have a responsibility to see that Detroiters receive adequate police protection?

Snyder and Bing say they have devised an answer for another made-in-Detroit problem, broken streetlights. Snyder has signed a bill to create a lighting authority that can raise funds to improve the system.

Can’t these wizards come up with a solution to the incredibly shrinking police department, even as they fix the city’s books?

Can't Snyder and his colleagues use some of the creativity -- and speed -- they used last month to pass the right-to-work bill in little more than a day?

More cops are scheduled to retire this month.

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