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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. 

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Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=7646

5 Comments for “WEEKLY WHOPPER: Ann Arbor Mayor Claims University Police At Disposal of City”

  1. Why worry if there are police? Isn’t crime down? Perhaps fewer police will mean the eventual eradication of crime in our fair city. It’s as silly for the mayor to say that the university’s police department is at the city’s disposal as it is for him to claim that we don’t need firefighters because there are fewer fires. The more I read A2Politico the more I am under the impression that our mayor isn’t the brightest guy in the game. It’s getting embarrassing because everytime he opens his mouth his foot goes right in.

  2. The agencies in the county that are not cutting fire and police are getting irked at Ann Arbor’s idea that we’ll just rely on help from others while we cut police and fire. The mutual aid b.s. is just that. The idea that a community would pull all of its police off of the streets and send them to Ann Arbor is silly and anyone who tries to sell this to the taxpayers is a total crackpot.

  3. @Robert I think someone at city hall does have delusions of grandeur, more than one someone. It’s the city that snaps to attention when officials at the U snap their fingers and not the other way around. I can just imagine the laughter in certain places when Mayor Hieftje told this whopper. Ann Arbor just agreed to fork over to U of M $1 million for easements to do the Stadium bridge replacement. That just about sums up the relationship and how likely it is that U of M police would all come running. LOL.

  4. Thank you for finally putting this absurd claim to rest. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard him say this, and it’s about time someone asked the folks at U of M if they would respond with their entire police force if Ann Arbor needed help. Cutting police and now laying them off is not offset by the 54 officers employed by U of M.

  5. Robert C. Smith

    Does AnnArbor.com ever check Hieftje’s claims or are they relying on A2Politico to do that now since the staffing cuts? Sheesh! I knew the U of M police were in charge of campus policing, and certainly they would help out as best they could in an emergency, but someone at city hall must have delusions of grandeur. Who would think U of M would send its Chief of Police, two deputy chiefs and every other officer running when Ann Arbor needed a hand?

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