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Ypsilanti mayor addresses rumors of changes to police department

Ypsilanti police car
Ypsilanti Police Department
Ypsilanti police car


City of Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti Police Department


David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and I'm David Fair. The WEMU newsroom today picked up on some community chatter that indicated there may be changes coming to the Ypsilanti Police Department. Now, the Ypsilanti police have been short staffed for a long while. Turnover has been high and morale rather low. In the past few months, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department has stepped in and taken over investigations into major crimes. Eastern Michigan University public safety officers have been assisting Ypsilanti Police with some calls. The word we got earlier today is that, later this month, Ypsilanti police would stop patrolling between two in the morning and six in the morning. And then, Michigan State Police would respond to emergencies during those hours. So, we did our job and started reaching out to find out what's happening. And we're about to learn together. Joining us on the WEMU news line is Ypsilanti Mayor Nicole Brown. And thank you for making time today. I appreciate it.

Nicole Brown
Nicole Brown
Nicole Brown
Nicole Brown

Nicole Brown: No problem.

David Fair: Based on what you just heard me say, are these rumors true?

Nicole Brown: There are parts of it that are true in terms of the conversations about MSP coming in to support us between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. I heard that the date was given February 11th. That is untrue and correct. We have actually not even come to a conclusion on if and when this will begin, but it definitely would not happen that soon if that were the case.

David Fair: Staffing issues continue to be a problem in the Ypsilanti Police Department. How is it being worked to address this situation?

Nicole Brown: Yeah. So, there's no secret that staffing has been an issue in YPD for many years. And, definitely, we have low numbers right now. We actually have several candidates in the academy, lateral employees that will be coming on board, but that takes time.

David Fair: So, when we talk about having people available in the pipeline and getting prepared to come on board, they will still be young. They will be relatively inexperienced and probably need to be partnered with somebody who has some seniority and can show them the community and how best to operate within the parameters of the department. Is that available to those who will be coming on board?

Nicole Brown: So, we do have officers who have been with us for some years who will be able to support. And, again, we have individuals who will likely be coming on board who have been officers in other communities. So, they may not be as familiar with Ypsilanti as a community but are not new to the work of community policing and law enforcement. And so, between those two things meshing together, I think that we will have the support from our teams, from our captain and from our leadership staff and the capacity to support incoming officers to the PD.

David Fair: Any concerns on the part of the police department, on the part of City Council, that having Michigan State Police be available for emergencies for a four-hour period in the overnight hours might not be sufficient, and that it might be a trigger for a criminal element to become more active?

Nicole Brown: I mean, there's always a question when we don't have our own officers on the road what could happen in that time. But I think the piece that I want to lean into is that it does not eliminate the partnerships that we already have with Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department and EMU PD, who already do some cross-jurisdictional patrolling and support for one another on the daily as it stands. And so, the hours of 2 to 6, if MSP were to come in and support us, then it doesn't eliminate the ability for the Sheriff's Department and EMU PD to also support. And they are in closer proximity to the city than maybe where an MSP officer would be coming from. I think the really important piece about this is that we're thinking about the employees that we have right now and not wanting to stress them beyond capacity. We can't keep officers on for 24 hours a day. And so, the hours that potentially are being discussed are those hours that we see the lowest amount of activity. Does that mean that folks may make decisions because they are aware that this is what's happening potentially? But hopefully, the strong partnerships that we've built will help to again maintain visibility and maintain support for the community during those hours for the interim, until we get these new officers on board and on the road.

David Fair: So, what is the next step in coming to final decisions on how this is going to play out?

Nicole Brown: So, leadership with YPD and MSP are discussing what this would look like. There is no MOU in place at this moment. So, that would have to be created and presented to City Council. And then, we would make a decision about moving forward with that to support our chief in the decision making.

David Fair: You said an MOU?

Nicole Brown: I'm sorry. A memorandum of understanding.

David Fair: Very good. Is it likely or possible that this is an issue that will be addressed at Tuesday's City Council meeting?

Nicole Brown: It will not. No. We are not even that far in the conversation to bring it to the table at this moment. We would likely not see anything about this before March.

David Fair: Well, thank you for making time to clear up all of the rumors and set the record straight. And we'll be following along and paying attention, and we'll have an opportunity to talk about it again, I thank you.

Nicole Brown: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

David Fair: That is Ypsilanti Mayor Nicole Brown with the latest on the staffing issues and potential changes coming to the Ypsilanti Police Department. If you missed any part of this conversation, you can stop by our website to listen again at wemu.org. I'm David Fair, and this is 89 one WEMU.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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