Detroit voters won’t have the opportunity to decide in November whether to increase property taxes to put 500 more cops on the streets.
With a 7-2 vote, Detroit City Council rejected putting on the ballot a tax hike to raise about $56 million a year.
With 32 shootings over the weekend – seven of them fatal – Police Chief Ralph Godbee implored council members to approve putting the issue on the ballot.
“We have people dying in the street,” Godbee said. “ I need more police officers. That’s the bottom line.”
Council members said they were skeptical that the infusion of officers would crack down on crime; others worried the state would penalize the city financially for increasing taxes.
“I am not convinced that our problem is a lack of manpower,” Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr. said. “I am convinced the problem is a lack of effective management.”
The accusation offended Godbee, who called out council members for regularly impeding police reforms.
“I am taking it personally,” Godbee told council.
Supporters of the tax hike said more residents will flee Detroit as fewer police patrol the streets.
“People aren’t leaving Detroit because of the property taxes,” said Rev. Jerome Warfield, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “People are leaving Detroit because it feels unsafe.”
Council members who supported the ballot question were President Charles Pugh and Andre Spivey.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.