Greg Bowens, a former journalist, served as press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer. He is a local political consultant and public relations professional.
By Greg Bowens
Who decided to put GM world headquarters and the downtown skyline on Detroit police cars?
The people who paid for them decided that’s who – a cabal of corporations led by wealthy individuals who donated $8 million for 100 new police cars and 23 ambulances.
Either by decree or fiat, they got what they wanted. Each new DPD car and ambulance adorned with the pictures of the corporate community is a rolling, public receipt of the money they spent. They amount to a not-so-gentle-reminder of who is in charge of this city.
Welcome to Detroit and the rise of the corporatocracy. It is a magical place in the land of the free and home of the brave, where society is governed or controlled by corporations. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody who is in charge. One hint, it’s not the mayor.
Back in March Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, flanked by the power elite, lauded the graciousness of our corporate community. Everyone ohhh’d and ahhh’d at the concept drawings of shiny new Chevy Caprices, Dodge Chargers and Ford Tauruses during the evening news.
People marveled at the bright white and blue colored new ambulances adorned with a picture of the riverfront skyline anchored by GM world headquarters during news updates on their tiny handheld phones.
They were just concepts. They are supposed to look nice during a press conference. No one seriously thought real police would patrol real neighborhoods in cars adorned with GM on it.
That would be too much like Robocop brought to life. That would put the emphasis on downtown and not the neighborhoods. That would suggest corporations are who we protect and serve.
Nobody would do that. Somebody in government – the mayor, city council or the police commission would step up and say, NO!
But that didn’t happen.
What did happen is that the cars with their corporate symbols went from concept to development to sitting in a suburban parking lot waiting for the trek to the new police headquarters located, where else, downtown (surprise!).
This is what happens when you have a corporatocracy instead of a democracy. There was no meaningful public discussion or input about the logo change at police community precinct meetings. There were no big public hearings at city council discussing and approving the details of the generous gift from the corporate community.
There was no scrutinizing by the press to assure the public that the people who donate the cars don't have undue influence over law enforcement policing, car use and assignment. There was only polite hand clapping and head nodding.
Now, the first shipments of new cars are here. Stacked neatly in rows, the lot in Bloomfield Hills, where they're being kept for now, looks like the equipment staging area for an invading army. Row after row of cars adorned with Detroit’s new corporate logo glitter in the sun.
They look pretty, like private security cars patrolling a mall should look.
But the city of Detroit is not Somerset. And DPD officers are not mall cops.
Welcome to the new Detroit. This is outrageous.