Consolidation of Police and Fire Services in the City of Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Report 250, July 1976
 

INTRODUCTION

The City of Grosse Pointe is one of six suburbs which occupy the extreme northeast corner of Wayne County.  They have a combined population of 78,950 people in an area of 14.8 square miles, according to the 1970 population data supplied by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.  These six communities are participants in both police and fire mutual aid pacts and all operate from a common radio base station, with remote dispatch points at each police department, and all participate in a joint Youth Services Division which was originally funded with LEAA[1] funds.

The City of Grosse Pointe had a population of 6,637 people in an area of 1.3 square miles, according to the 1970 census.  The city cannot expand in area, and its population change has been negligible since 1970.

It is a “bedroom” city, with no industry and only three distinct business neighborhoods.  The fiscal problems facing the City of Grosse Pointe are typical of those which face most U.S. cities—a fixed or declining tax base, the rising cost of public services and an increasing demand for services.

As with most other U.S. cities, the City of Grosse Pointe faces a critical problem of change in the police and fire service which has been demonstrated by the increasing intrusion of the federal and state governments into the funding, management and control of local police and fire departments.  The principal agencies by which these changes are dictated are the United States Law Enforcement Assistance Administration; the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the United States Department of Labor, through the imposition of the National Fair Labor Standards Act; the Michigan Department of Mental Health, in the implementation of the Mental Health Code; the Michigan Department of Public Health, in the implementation of the Substance Abuse Act; the Michigan Office of Criminal Justice Program, in the enforcement of the Michigan Criminal Justice Goals and Standards; and the United States Fire Service Commission.

Subtle changes in the methods of delivering services and the quality of these services may be achieved as the consequence of these federal and state programs.  The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration requires states to establish goals and standards to qualify for continuation of Federal Planning and Action Funds for Criminal Justice.  State commissions such as the Michigan Office of Criminal Justice Programs have developed such standards, one of which provides that within five years no police department with less than twenty men shall be eligible for grants unless it participates in joint ventures for the delivery of services.

The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare has established standards and guidelines for the implementation for Emergency Medical Service programs, with some funding provisions.  The State Department of Public Health will follow, probably within the year, with additional legislation regulating the use of ambulances.

The U.S. Department of Labor has established minimum work week and pay standards, which affect local police and fire departments.  By 1977, police and fire departments may be required to pay overtime for all hours by which their workweek exceeds that of a national average work week, which is to be determined in 1976.

The Michigan Mental Health Act now requires police officers to transport persons who are “unable to care for themselves” or who are homicidal or suicidal.  It also requires police departments to pick up and transport to any mental health facility, those persons within the community whom the superintendent of the facility wants returned.

After January 1, 1977, police departments can no longer lock up drunks, but must deliver them to “service centers” or to their homes.

The National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control is developing national standards for fire service training and it is completing the plans for a national institute for training.  This pattern will be followed by the various states, and the present Michigan standards may very will become more stringent because of federal guidelines.

It is difficult to predict the long-range impact of these federal and state actions.  However, there can be no question that the actions will cause change.  Proof of that change can be found in the impact which the Michigan Compulsory Arbitration Act had on the budgets of municipal police and fire departments.

These changes will have to be accomplished within municipal financial constraints that dictate that wherever possible improvements be made without additional costs.  More of the same will not do.

This study will address the problem of providing municipal public safety services in Grosse Pointe in a manner in which the necessary changes are possible.

[1] Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, U.S. Department of Justice.

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