Detroit police Chief Ralph Godbee is using this YouTube post to prepare officers for reduced standards of living and working under the city’s controversial consent agreement with the state of Michigan. He urges all police department employees to accept cuts in wages and benefits so that he won’t have to lay off any more officers.
“There will absolutely be some critical sacrifices we all must make,” Godbee says. “Yet I implore everyone to really understand that without these structural changes, our department will be drastically reduced even further.” Only one of the three police department unions has a contract. The other two have expired, Godbee said.
The consent agreement, which the city also calls a financial stability agreement, frees the city from negotiating with employees starting July 12. According to the official summary of the consent agreement, when a union contract expires, the city can let it lapse and set wages and benefits unilaterally.
Godbee says the current Detroit city budget cut away $75 million, or almost one fifth, of the department’s funding. That means Godbee already is struggling to cut 380 jobs, mostly by not replacing people who leave or retire and, according to the Detroit News, by requiring all job applicants to work as volunteer reserve officers before they’re put on the payroll.
Worse, Godbee says, under the 2012-2013 budget that starts July 1, the department still has 108 more people working than it can afford. The city of Detroit employees almost 10,800 people, down from 13,400 when Mayor Dave Bing took office, according to Bing’s state of the city address in March. The cuts continue.
The consent agreement restructured Detroit government so that it is controlled by a nine-member, non-elected financial advisory board that works with and answers to two new, non-elected officials in the mayor’s office: a program management director, and a chief financial officer. The city council approved the agreement in late April. The advisory board, which includes the president of Charter Bank of Michigan, began meeting in mid-June.
Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder have argued that the consent agreement lets city and state governments share control of city affairs instead of turning everything over to a non-elected emergency manager. Under the vilified Public Act 4, Michigan’s emergency manager law, the governor could appoint a single person to control all city finances and control all city operations. That includes firing elected officials, closing departments and agencies, outsourcing public services such as street lighting or buses, selling off public assets such as parks, and, of course, voiding union contracts.