Explaining the Detroit Police's Return to Precincts

After moving to larger districts, the Detroit Police Department reverses itself and moves back to smaller precincts













In 2005, the Detroit Police Department consolidated its 13 precincts into six larger districts as a cost-cutting measure enacted by then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his appointed police chief, Ella Bully-Cummings.

Now, six years later, Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. is in the process of restructuring the department back into the smaller precincts.


Godbee cites two primary reasons. First, he says, “The community has never embraced losing their local precincts.”

And second, “When we migrated from precincts to much larger districts … we removed that artificial barrier between two precincts. What it provided for was a much larger area to police.”

Though the combined area remained the same size physically, Godbee says it still resulted in a change to the way it was patrolled. “The precinct that had the most calls for service, that’s where the cars predominantly were driven to. … And it really left a gap in services for the rest of the district.”

To illustrate, he points to the 5th and 9th precincts. The two shared a border and “worked extremely well together,” says Godbee, a former 9th-precinct commander. “I was accountable for a certain geographic area; my counterpart was responsible for a certain geographic area. And, absent some exigent circumstances, there was a level of geographic integrity to where those officers patrolled.” When the line between the two was removed, Godbee says it caused the 9th to see a greater police presence, while the 5th lost out.

And issues arose from each district having two commanders. “I’m a firm believer … that if two people are in charge, nobody is in charge,” Godbee says. “I thought it was really important to the community to know who the leader of their precinct is.”

But Godbee can’t take all the credit for the turnabout. The move away from districts began in early 2009, when then-Police Chief James Barren announced plans to reopen a number of precincts in response to an “outcry of city residents who didn’t grasp the district concept,” The Detroit News reported.

Currently, the police department is in the process of finding buildings to house still-closed precincts. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Eren Stephens, no deadline has been set for completion of the transition.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Meeting the Beatles

Fifty years ago, a Detroit-area teenager won a contest to meet The Beatles.

Rocking in Style

John Varvatos and Alice Cooper talk about their musical and fashion influences — and Detroit’s comeback

Well-Versed in Classics

DSO oboe player tools around town in a rare pair of turquoise 1962 Lincoln Continentals

All Dressed Up & Ready ...

Cobo Center is still a work in progress, but Auto Show visitors will notice a host of improvements

One Night Only: Steven Spielberg and John Williams at the DSO

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  4. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  5. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  6. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  7. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food
  8. Precious Metals
    Layering necklaces, stacking rings, and placing bangle upon glitzy bangle: a definitive guide to...
  9. Food Recipe: Braised Beef Brisket
    Chef Aaron Lowen, of Empire Kitchen & Cocktails, shares one of his favorite holiday recipes
  10. An Hour with ... Ricki Friedman
    Founder, Break the Weight