Home > Uncategorized > The Flint Police Department and the Mayor: Part 1 of 2

The Flint Police Department and the Mayor: Part 1 of 2

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The Flint Police Department and the Mayor: Part 1 of 2

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the April 28, 2010 issue of the Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)

Sooner or later, you’re bound to see this ad on Craig’s List:

“City of Flint seeks political leader to serve as mayor. Candidate must have experience, leadership skills and ability to communicate. Must be fiscally responsible. Ability to develop solid professional relationships with the police and fire department are an absolute must. Publicity hounds, those whose wives have auto dealerships or those named Kwame Kilpatrick need not apply.”

For several years, Don Williamson was the mayor of Flint. Overall, I saw him somewhat as as grandfatherly comic relief: he gave odd quotes, wore that silver, red, white and blue hard hat and when shown on TV at Flint City Council meetings, he bore an aura of dignity and authority. Some thought the aura was a façade while others didn’t: he was re-elected to office before resigning. One journalist colleague also described Williamson as a bully who would cancel his wife’s car ads if he felt a newspaper’s story on him was too negative.

Enter Dayne Walling, the current mayor of Flint. A few years ago, when he ran against (and lost to) Williamson, he seemed young, fresh, bubbling with lots of new ideas. Some may have even pictured him as a superhero named Wonder Walling, who would rescue Flint from its broken economy and its crime wave.

Now we’re left to wonder just how much of an improvement Walling is over Williamson, if at all.

Williamson apparently doesn’t see his successor as the leader Flint needs. Recently, The Don announced he was thinking of running for office again. For some, this would probably be comparable to Wayne Fontes announcing he wants to coach the Detroit Lions again or Joey Harrington expressing a desire to quarterback the team again. “No, thanks” would be the general response.

While there are those who see Walling as the change Flint needs, there are those who don’t. Someone I know works for the Flint Police Department, and he’s certainly not a Walling fan.

“Jack” tells me that many at the police department aren’t big fans of the mayor, either. A lot of it has to do with Walling’s decision to deal with Flint’s budget deficits by making cuts to the police department. Fewer police officers on the street, demotions, pay reductions. Even with the reduction in manpower, the crimes (including the homicides) continue.

“At this rate, we will need the National Guard this summer,” Jack mused, making me wonder if his tongue-in-cheek comment might be proven true.

I read once about Albert A. Seedman, the first Jewish chief of detectives in the New York Police Department. At one time, crime in The Big Apple was so bad that Seedman worked long days, seven days a week as the weeks turned into months.

When we last spoke a few weeks ago, Jack worked 12 hour shifts. This, he explained, gives the police half the days of the year off. However, they may be returning to eight-hour shifts in May.

Could he and other Flint police officers work 12-hour shifts seven days a week for a few months?

“We certainly could,” he said, adding: “We just wouldn’t get paid to do it, though.”

Jack works a second job and tells me that “99.99999” percent of police officers work second jobs not because they’re bored, but because they need the extra income.

In my second installment, I’ll ask a Flint Police Sergeant’s Association official his opinions about this issue.

Richard Zowie’s a reporter and columnist for the Herald. Visit his blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

  1. April 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I made a slight edit to fix a typographical error in the sixth paragraph. In the print version, I referred to Dayne Walling as Don Williamson’s “predecessor” when he’s actually Williamson’s “successor”. In the internet version it now reads “successor”. I apologize for the confusion.

  2. ConcernFlintoid
    April 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

    The cost of living is lower in Flint. Why don’t officers choose to live there as opposed to in the suburbs like Grand Blanc, Swartz Creek, Davison, or Flushing? Which generally have a higher cost of living…

    Making $40,000-70,000 is certainly more than a sufficient salary to live off of in a city like Flint.

    • April 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      There’s a reason Flint has a lower cost of living, just like housing in San Antonio’s high-crime southside is much cheaper than it is in the safer areas of the city.

      Am curious where you get the $40,000 to $70,000 figure from…

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