Inkster (WXYZ) - The Inkster Police Department had a force of about 60 officers one year ago. After multiple rounds of layoffs, there are now only 25 officers left on the job.
The city is relying on its auxiliary force to help provide a presence.
“I have an obligation to keep this city safe,” said Chief Hilton Napoleon.
He says that is why he has been taking auxiliary officers out on patrols. He often does it after his typical workday.
He says the presence is needed to maintain safe neighborhoods. If he finds himself in a police situation, the chief says he can direct the auxiliaries to assist him as needed .
Some police officers are voicing concerns that the use of auxiliaries is going too far.
“We have had numerous members put on layoff,” said Allen Lewis, of Teamsters 214, the union for police officers in Inkster. “It isn’t fair to the officers we represent, or to the public, to have auxiliaries who do not have the training of police officers doing the duties of police officers.”
He says if auxiliary officers escalate a situation because they do not have the proper training, it could put police officers and the public at risk. The union met with the Inkster Police Department days ago, and says they hope the issue is resolved.
In general, the auxiliary officers are not to perform police duties such as pulling people over or searching someone, however union grievances claim they are doing just that.
For example, one grievance complains auxiliary officers stopped a car at a park, noticed the people inside had guns, and took the illegal guns until back up arrived.
The police chief says he told the auxiliaries he would like them to call for backup in the future, but that he believes the auxiliaries are serving the community.
“The people who live in that neighborhood, I think they would be glad those illegal guns are off the streets,” said the chief.
William Kucyk, a lawyer and retired police officer who owns the firearms store Action Impact in Southfield, says excessive use of auxiliary officers could put the city at risk of a lawsuit.
“I would be concerned about liability. It only takes one incident,” said Kucyk.
City council members Michael Canty and Lorenzo Moner say they have volunteered with the auxiliary force. They say police officers should not think any volunteer is trying to take their job. They all are just trying to help keep Inkster safe with limited resources.
7 Action News wants to know what you think. Do you feel it is unsafe to have auxiliary officers out on patrol? How limited should their duties be? Leave your comments below .
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