Defunding Law Enforcement

Writes George Giles:

In 1976 I landed one of the best summer jobs a college student could get: driving tractor-trailers in the City of Detroit for $500/week. I saw first hand one of the original experiments in cutting the funding for law enforcement in a major city.

That summer a bureaucratic battle waged over which police agency would be responsible for patrolling the interstate highway system inside Detroit city limits. All of the interstates inside city limits are either above or below ground. Three interstates intersect in the downtown area: I-94, I-96 and I-75.

The Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff Department refused to patrol these by-ways insisting that it was the others responsibility. The issue was as it always is with bureaucrats money; how much and who would pay.  It had never been the Michigan State Police responsibility.

It was announced on radio, TV and in the newspapers that there would be no law enforcement on these roads. It did not take more than a day before criminals realized it was open season on any driver unfortunate enough to stop on one of these roads and very little chance of getting caught in the act.

The bureaucrats were intransigent with City and County officials leaving citizen’s lives to hang in the balance over turf and funding. In 1976 Detroit was still a vibrant big city with a million and a half citizens, not the death spiral it is today. Nonetheless the bureaucrats let crime run wild. Finally Michigan Governor William Milliken used executive authority as commander of the state police and found the funding to end the mayhem in August that had run for several weeks that summer.

Unfortunately detailed data is not available but I remember there were multiple homicides. It is mentioned here.