WEEKLY WHOPPER: Ann Arbor Mayor Claims University Police At Disposal of City
On April 14, 2011, AnnArbor.com reported that John Hieftje said, “Ann Arbor has more police officers than most think. In addition to the 124 sworn officers in the Ann Arbor Police Department, he said the University of Michigan has 54 officers and they’re available to assist the city in emergency situations.”
An official with the University of Michigan DPS said this is response to Hieftje’s claim: “Oh, gawd.” The official then went on to explain that, “It’s about jurisdiction.”
Either Ann Arbor’s Mayor doesn’t understand how jurisdiction works, or he is hoping residents of Ann Arbor don’t. The concept of jurisdiction is actually simple: it’s about geography, more precisely, the geographic area over which authority extends— the area in which an entity has the right to exercise its authority over people.
The University of Michigan DPS officers have no jurisdiction outside of the University’s campus. They can’t issue citations, for instance, for infractions of city ordinances. Conversely, Ann Arbor police officers can’t issue citations for violations of University of Michigan Regents’ Ordinance. This is why on football Saturdays, you see U of M DPS officers paired with City of Ann Arbor police. Michigan Stadium rests on property owned by the University of Michigan, but the stadium is bounded by city property. The officers, in pairs, cover both jurisdictions.
There is a county-wide mutual aide agreement that calls for the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University Departments of Public Safety to help in times of emergency, but Hieftje’s claim that the University of Michigan could send all 54 of its officers was quickly contradicted by a DPS official.
The DPS official pointed out that, “We have a whole city we’re policing ourselves. We have 10,000 students on campus, three hospitals and 1,000,000 visitors per year. We can augment, but there are calls we’d be responding to on our own campus.”
In 2010, A2Politico revealed that the AAPD has only 7-8 officers on patrol during the day across the 27 square miles of the city—in cars that are staffed mostly by lone officers. The U of M DPS official declined to say how many of the University’s patrol officers were on duty at any given time, but did explain that “the University of Michigan campus is broken into four zones, and those zones are patrolled by mostly single-staffed cars.”
Hieftje likes to tell people in Ann Arbor who are nervous about the fact that he and City Council have allowed the City Administrator to reduce the number of police staff (sworn officers and non-police support staff) by more than 100 individuals, leaving Ann Arbor with fewer police officers on patrol on any given afternoon than it takes to field a soccer team, that Ann Arbor has two police departments—as if the University’s officers and the city’s officers were interchangeable.
Ann Arbor has 124 sworn officers, down from 210 sworn officers in 2000. In comparison, the city of Dearborn, with 100,000 residents, employs over 200 sworn officers and 124 firefighters.
While the DPS officers will stop and give help to, say, a stranded motorist off of the U of M campus, they will not be the primary responding agency anywhere except within their own jurisdiction. The University of Michigan’s DPS has no legal jurisdiction off campus, and Hieftje’s assertion that the university’s DPS could muster its entire complement of sworn officers—leave it’s own jurisdiction unprotected— it’s simply untrue, according to a U of M DPS spokesman.
The DPS spokesman also pointed out that of those 54 officers employed by U of M, 10 of them work in administration, including the Chief, two Deputy Chiefs, heads of patrol operations, criminal investigations, communications, training and events.
This week’s A2Politico Weekly Whopper goes to Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.
Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=7646