End of the Party?
Kailasapathy believes Hieftje erred in shrinking the police force from 200 officers in 2000 to 118 today (the U-M adds another fifty-five). Based on an FBI website, she calculates that the city could use 273 officers--but says that "for now," she'd go with recently retired chief Barnett Jones' "magic number" of 150.
Kailasapathy says she set the target based on "values" rather than "number crunching," but suggests the city could pay for the staffing increase by negotiating with its unions to "get reasonable contracts by getting concessions on pensions and benefits." That won't be easy: in more than a decade of cost-cutting, the unions have shown little willingness to trade benefits for cops.
Tennis instructor Eric Sturgis says he likes the current city budget because "we had a surplus and used it to hire a police officer." And though he readily acknowledges "crime is down 70 percent in the last twenty-five years," Sturgis like Kailasapathy says the city needs more cops--200 is his optimal number.
Sturgis says Hieftje has "obviously been doing a very good job," because "he's reduced government [employment] 30 percent and kept up services. We came out of the Great Recession with a surplus!"