Interim Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan unveiled a detailed Police Department reorganization plan Thursday that calls for transferring oversight of officers and neighborhood operations from the downtown headquarters out to the commanders in each of the city's six districts and 12 precincts.
Under the plan, the department's homicide division will investigate all shootings and gun-related crime. In addition, most of the 44-member gang squad will be split up and its members embedded in every precinct, and every district will create the operation it needs to fight the kind of crime it faces in its part of the city.
Logan faces criticism from residents who just want more police officers and students at Denby High School, who have picketed police headquarters because they don't want the gang squad -- which occasionally responds to incidents at the schools -- disbanded.
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners also challenged the plan, set to be implemented Monday, and said the city charter requires board approval for any organizational changes. The board passed a resolution Thursday that says personnel transfers likely won't result in more officers on the streets because those units have officers on patrol.
In a statement Thursday, Mayor Dave Bing said the restructuring will happen.
"I have instructed Chief Logan to move forward with the DPD restructuring plan," he said.
Logan, Inspector Eric Jones, Deputy Chief James Tolbert and Logan's chief of staff Inspector Charles Wilson sat down with the Free Press to detail the plan Thursday, a day before Gov. Rick Snyder was expected to announce he was accepting a financial review's team finding that Detroit is in a financial emergency.
Logan said he wants the city, the commissioners and the students to trust him.
"What we want to do with this reorganization is to let the administrators at the schools know that we're not abandoning them," Logan said.
To develop the reorganization, the chief created a five-member board of commanders and inspectors to look at the department from top to bottom to find ways to be more efficient and increase patrols. Even with the changes, the net gain will only be about 50 patrol officers. Some gang squad and tactical members are transferring to surveillance and homicide.
It comes at a time when officers have been hit with a 10% pay cut and 12-hour workdays. The city saw a sharp increase in homicides in 2012, when the murder rate was the highest in nearly two decades.
The core of the reorganization is to have a less specialized and more generalized force, the men said.
"When you do that, you break down those barriers," Jones said.
Wilson said the board looked at all specialized units and felt gang enforcement was an easy call.
Logan said there will now be a department-wide focus on gangs instead of a single unit. And he said he plans to visit every high school in the city to talk to students about how the department plans to keep them safe.
"A lot of what they do right now is patrol-centric," he said. "Each precinct has a different dynamic when you talk about gangs. The gangs in southwest Detroit aren't the same as the gangs in Eastern District. So when you take that expertise and you put it back into patrol, as opposed to having a small centralized gang squad, you have a department-wide focus on gangs."
Tolbert said the department also plans to make clearer whose responsibility it is to respond to incidents at schools.
DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said that's fine with the school district and its police force, whose chief met with department officials Wednesday.
"Our police force is totally deputized," he said. "It's more helpful for a principal or staff person to call our emergency line or 911 because we'll have better knowledge of a campus. If something happens on campus, the first response should be a DPS officer. We want to be the first ones to respond."
If the plan moves forward Monday, the Board of Police Commissioners said it will take action.