Detroit Police Chief Has to Ignore Some Crimes

"I think there have been tendencies to be more worried about how high the number is instead of the solutions to fix the numbers," he said. "It's a bad thing that we're in this condition, but I think also it's a bad thing to lie about the condition. We're trying to be as straight up with the public as we can and hopefully they will develop the same level of righteous indignation that I have about us being in this situation."

The economic depression battering Detroit doesn't help make police work any easier. Over the past decade the force has decreased by at least 800 officers. Evans says optimally he needs about 1,000 more officers to cover Detroit's large land area.

"Can we do a great job with less? Yes, but it's going to be several hundred more. There's no question about that," he said.

Like so many police departments in today's economic environment struggling to do more with less, Evans says he hopes smarter police work can make a difference. He wants to improve officer's response time, close down drug houses based on violations of occupancy codes rules, and increase the department's partnership with federal law enforcement to eliminate illegal guns and protect the schools.

Detroit Police Chief Wanted to Be Mayor

"I'm not going to take the position that there are things we can't do because we don't have the resources," said Evans. "You cannot make chicken pie out of chicken feathers. You've got to have something to work with, and we're trying to develop that in extremely lean times."

Increased resources for the police department are not likely coming anytime soon. The city is facing a budget deficit of nearly $300 million.

Evans knows Detroit. He is a licensed attorney, grew up in the city and is the former sheriff of Wayne County, Mich. He knows there are major institutional changes needed within the department, but also he knows relations between the cops and the community must improve.

"You have to engage the community. One of the reasons officers are working as hard as they are is because there's a general reluctance by a large part of the population not to be particularly helpful or cooperative with the police," said Evans. "We'll never be successful until we bring them back."

The chief noted that his officers are called upon to go above and beyond their traditional role of serving and protecting the public. "People want the police to be so much more than we are," he said. Evans talked about the need for community leaders and churches to help improve the city.

"We're not parents. We're not school teachers. We're not ministers. We're not social workers. We're police officers," said Evans.

With more than 1,000 people shot in the city this year, Evans speaks with a sense of urgency about cracking down on gun violence. On the issue of guns, like so many other issues, Evans knows he needs help from the community.

"One, you've got to get the guns off the streets. Number two, you've got to get the community involved because the shootings would go down if the closure rate on the shootings go down," he said.

Evans says improvements won't happen overnight

After Detroit's scandal plagued former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick left office last year, Evans ran against Mayor Dave Bing in a special election. Evans finished fourth in the mayoral election, but Bing tapped him to succeed popular police chief James Barren.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...