Inkster may lay off more police to help balance budget

By Shawn Ley, Local 4 Reporter, @ShawnLeyLive, sley@wdiv.com
Published On: Jan 19 2012 12:12:46 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 19 2012 05:53:12 PM EST

Fourteen officers were laid off in December, a move that took 11 officers off the street and eliminated the positions of three civilian police employees. 

INKSTER, Mich. -

The sting of police layoffs in Inkster, a town of 26,000 remains. 

Fourteen officers were laid off in December, a move that took 11 officers off the street and eliminated the positions of three civilian police employees. 

Inkster is facing such a major budget crunch, the department folded it’s narcotics unit, disbanded it’s community policing program and limits it’s records department to be open just one day per week.

Local 4 learned Thursday there could be even more layoffs.

The state of Michigan has sent a financial review team to Inkster to investigate how the town will negotiate it’s $8.5 million deficit.Cuts have been made, but the state informed city leaders those cuts weren’t deep enough, and in the next few weeks $3.5 million in cuts must be made.

In the crosshairs: Inkster police officers. 

Multiple sources within the department tell Local 4, they’ve been told to brace for a $1.5 million hit to the police department budget.

One officer costs Inkster about $79,000. So, 15 to 20 could be laid off to equal a $1.5 million cut.

Local 4 sat down with Inkster's deputy chief, Hilton Napoleon, who happens to be the brother of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

The Detroit police veteran joined Inkster last fall, and promptly got a layoff notice. 

He says he’d be off the job if the Inkster chief didn’t retire a few weeks ago.

Inside Napoleon’s small office at Inkster police headquarters, the deputy chief is working furiously on a plan to avoid more layoffs to his department.

"Pay cuts. No if’s, and’s or buts about it," he said.

Napoleon says his officers have a choice:  Take deep and painful cuts to pay, or face layoffs.

Napoleon says he’ll submit his plan to the city manager by the end of today.

Meantime, officers are meeting with their union leadership.

Three officers that spoke to Local 4 say they want to keep their jobs and avoid layoffs and the discussion today with union representatives will be how deep of pay are the officers willing to take?

Even if officers do accept pay cuts, they say they might not be enough to make up for the shortfall, and some officers may still get pink slips in the coming weeks.

Right now, Inkster has gone from 60 officers to 40.

Long time residents have noticed.  A group of men who meet for coffee inside a coney island at Inkster Road and Michigan Avenue say they’re worried there won’t be enough officers on the streets to respond to their emergency.

Napoleon says response time has not suffered and the department, despite the layoffs, has restructured to get more officers out from behind desks to allow the department to keep the same number of officers on the street.

Officers says the state tells them, it wants quick action. 

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