Dearborn City Council on Tuesday approved the creation of a new captain position within the Dearborn Police Department, but not without pushback from some who felt that the move was unfair, given recent cutbacks to all city employees.
The position will replace an existing position within the department, essentially “promoting” one of the department’s supervisory officers to the rank of captain. The measure was approved by council, 5-1, with Council President Tom Tafelski dissenting and Councilwoman Nancy Hubbard absent.
Gregg Allgeier, president of the Police Officers Association of Dearborn, took issue with the fact that the position—which is salaried and an 8 percent higher payrate that the job it’s replacing—comes just after the 143-member POAD agreed to contract changes that he said included “unprecedented concessions.”
Among them, Allgeier listed, were that POAD members took legacy cuts and added health care costs, as well as agreed to work 12-hour shifts.
Additionally, the union signed a memorandum of understanding that says that the city is now required to staff 180 officers total—including higher ranking officers. The memo supersedes the city charter, which requires a minimum of 205 officers, based on Dearborn’s population. The charter’s minimum staffing requirement was approved by voters in 2004, but can be overruled by union negotiations.
“My members took at least a 10 percent concession with this contract,” Allgeier told council. “I’d like the council to be aware that these are unprecedented concessions … to accommodate the city with cost savings.”
“We feel that we’re doing more with less … and we don’t see any reason with, 25 less officers, that the chief cannot get by with his current staffing model.”
Tafelski agreed, stating that although the salary raise is commensurate with what the previous position was paying based on hourly and overtime rates, a raise is still a raise.
“My issue with it is … everybody’s taking cuts,” Tafelski said. “Why are we giving him a higher baseline to that cutback?”
Police Chief Ronald Haddad argued that the change in supervisory staff is a necessary one for the “balance of the chain of command, as well as my budget.”
He pointed out that the request came just after council recognized, in the same meeting, a total of $120,000 in grant funding the police department successfully secured.
“We fight real hard for extra dollars … and while I respect POAD, what I need to run is a department,” Haddad said, adding that, “it really doesn’t matter what the numbers are at the bottom; you still need an officer at the top of every shift.”
Moreover, Haddad pointed out that all city employees are being asked to take cuts in the face of budget woes.
"In every level of our department in our city, no matter what the pay scale is, we’re all going to take a 10 percent drop," he said.
Councilmen Mark Shooshanian and David Bazzy both expressed that as long as the budget amount was not more, they were fine with the position change.
“This is not going to create an incremental dollar amount to your overall budget structure,” Bazzy said. “I’m going to take you at your word on that.”