Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at a podium
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks about police hiring efforts during an Aug. 8, 2023 press conference. (BridgeDetroit photo by Malachi Barrett)

Detroit will add 14 neighborhood police officer positions and 11 mental health police responders, thanks to an infusion of $3.1 million in funding from the 2023-2024 state budget.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James White said Tuesday that the recently-approved $8.2 billion Michigan budget funds new public safety funding using Detroit’s allocation of revenue sharing payments. The Detroit Police Department will add 25 new positions as it makes progress toward filling roughly 150 openings, Duggan said. 

“This could not come at a better time,” Duggan said during a press conference at the DPD headquarters. “Late last year, we had 300 vacancies in police officers, but with the $10,000 pay raise, not only has recruitment improved dramatically, but we’ve had a number of officers who left who promptly came back to DPD. Now we’re down to 150 (vacancies) and early next year, we will be fully staffed for the first time in many years.”


White said the addition of positions on the Crisis Intervention Team, a specialized unit with different uniforms and vehicles to differentiate from patrol officers, will help the department deal with a major increase in mental health calls. The department has serviced nearly 1,000 more calls for mental health issues than it had at this point last year. White said the department has prevented 898 suicides in 2023.

“That’s just incredible work, and to have these additional 11 officers out here, bringing that number to 30 officers managing the crisis, is one part of a bigger plan that literally equates to saving lives,” White said. 

Sgt. Roland Frederick is a 15-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department who went through specialized training to join the Crisis Intervention Team. Frederick said officers who respond to mental health calls alongside clinicians have “softer” green uniforms and arrive in vehicles equipped with green lights that are meant to be less intimidating. 

“I’m really happy with the program, every day we’re getting better,” Frederick said. “You have several positive stories. Our crew knows how to speak to the people in crisis and it seems to be working out.”

DPD reported 9,805 mental health calls as of Aug. 7, including 1,776 suicide threats, 4,767 emergencies involving a violent person and 2,190 mental health crises involving a non-violent person. 

White said the region lacks enough beds in treatment facilities, which has added to the mental health crisis. 

“It’s on our doorstep and we have to responsibly manage the crisis we’re seeing,” White said. “It’s not even just a Detroit problem, I talk to colleagues around the country and they’re all seeing upticks in mental health crisis runs. You look at the unpredictable nature of someone who is in crisis and you see an uptick in violence around our country – there’s certainly a correlation between the two.” 

DPD recorded 160 homicides as of Aug. 8, an 11% decline compared to this time last year. Non-fatal shootings are also down 6% compared to last year, with 524 reported. Duggan also noted that carjackings are down by 26% so far this year, though vehicle thefts are up by 23%. 

The mayor said the increase in staff has helped DPD break up illegal block parties and prevent shootings. 

“This is the kind of department we want to build, one that is effective on the law enforcement side but is also a national leader in dealing with those who have a mental illness by building partnerships with community,” Duggan said. “We’re hopeful in the future that there’s a dedicated revenue sharing source so that we can plan long-term.” 

Neighborhood police officer positions are typically filled by rookie officers. White said the funding allows him to put new recruits into neighborhoods while bringing seasoned veterans into the Crisis Intervention Team. 

State Reps. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, and Alabas Farhat, D-Dearborn, said the $3.1 million in state funds will help Detroit deal with a rise in violent crime facing cities across the country. 

“Today is about the quality of life for the residents of Detroit, and with this investment we’re going to see an increased quality of life for folks where they can feel safe in their home,” Farhat said. 

Farhat promoted pending legislation he sponsored that would create a $100 million trust fund allocated to municipalities proportionally based on the number of violent crimes. The bill was introduced in March and has not yet received a vote in the state House. 

Carter, who previously spent 25 years with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office before joining the Michigan Legislature, said Detroit needs more neighborhood officers and crisis intervention officers. 

“Everybody wants what they moved into a community for: A safe quality of life to raise a family and enjoy the house you’ve paid for,” Carter said. 

White said the department is offering bonuses to officers who return to the city and is “aggressively pursuing” police who left Detroit. He and the mayor said DPD should fill all of its vacancies, plus the 25 new positions, by the end of the year. White said fewer officers are leaving since City Council approved a $10,000 pay increase and one-time retention bonus of $2,000 last year. 

Duggan said there are 122 officers being trained in the DPD academy. Those officers will sign an agreement to repay the city for six months of training costs if they are “poached” by another police department, he said. Reimbursements were made possible by a law passed last month that was sponsored by Carter, Farhat and other member Detroit lawmakers. 

“We’re not losing our senior officers,” Duggan said. “We had been losing some where basically (other departments) allowed us to subsidize the training and then tried to take them away.”

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