Citizens on Patrol
As Detroit scales back its police operations, its citizenry is picking up the slack:
Volunteers given radios and matching T-shirts help officers protect neighborhoods where burglaries, thefts and thugs drive away people who can’t rely on a police force that lost a quarter of its strength since 2009. With 25 patrols on the streets, the city hopes to add three each year. Meanwhile, the homicide rate continues rising.
Kevyn Orr, the Detroit emergency manager appointed by the state to supersede the mayor and city council, has called public safety crucial as he reorganizes a city running a $380 million deficit, teetering on a record municipal bankruptcy and struggling to provide services. Orr has said Detroit’s turnaround depends on reversing a population loss of more than 25 percent since 2000.
“Nobody’s going to move back to Detroit as long as people don’t have a sense of security,” said volunteer Lorenzo Blount during his morning rounds in the west-side Grandmont area. “That’s what we’re trying to add in our neighborhood in our little way.”
Will any of them have carry permits?
I actually look at situations like this and wonder about the viability of increased reliance on reserve officers. Which is to say, officers who are actually trained and certified, volunteering their time?
Back in Colosse, one of the departments relied heavily on that. The deputies even had to afford their own trip to the police academy. But it was something that a surprising number of people wanted to do whether they were getting paid or not.
Fire services in the United States are a blend of volunteer and professional. The City of Colosse has a professional fire department, though most of the surrounding cities (including one with over 100,000 people in it!) rely mostly on a volunteer crew. Colosse mixes fire service with EMT and the latter turns off a lot of people who are interested in being a firefighter but don’t want to do the EMT stuff. Those people end up volunteering in the suburbs.
Conceptually, it’s pretty neat to me that there are places that can so rely on volunteerism to take care of basic civic services. It seems to me that Detroit might not be an ideal place to set up such a program for police. The danger would be off-putting to some, and it might attract the sort of people you don’t want. Beyond that, though, as cops are being laid off, I’d imagine that the paid police force would go ballistic. Which would be understandable from a standpoint of self-interest.