Why Police Chief Godbee’s Sexual Desires Hurt Us All

Perhaps no one – not even the mayor – was more vital to Detroit than Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

By most accounts, Godbee was a passionate, intelligent and reform-driven chief who was adapting relatively well to the reduction in manpower and equipment by employing a smarter approach to crime-fighting. The charismatic, soft-spoken pastor regularly talked frankly of the city’s enormous challenges of reducing violence and drug abuse.

And that’s what makes it all the more bizarre that Godbee would jeopardize his promising career and the city that has been depending on him – for sex. With a subordinate. Even worse, an Internal Affairs officer, whose mission is to independently investigate problems within a police department that is under federal oversight for abuse. And to think Godbee would use an incredibly understaffed department to track down his mistress in Farmington Hills after she exposed the affair … well, it just doesn’t add up.

And here’s where it gets worse: Godbee knew he was risking his job and therefore jeopardizing the public’s safety by carrying on an affair. He knew he was likely the last qualified employee within the police department to be chief. He knew that finding an external candidate would be costly, time-consuming and maybe entirely futile because competent candidates won’t risk everything to take a job that likely will end in December 2013, unless Bing surprisingly wins re-election. Even more, whomever Bing chooses must be approved by a city council that rarely agrees on the mayor with anything.

“It’s imperative that there’s no interruption in the crime-fighting efforts in this city,” Bing said Monday.

That’s a pipe dream. Morale within the department has plummeted, and police are warning residents and visitors that the city is unsafe because the budget has been cut to the bone.

About 290 people have been murdered in Detroit so far this year, a significant increase over last year. Just getting police to respond to a burglary or stabbing is a minor miracle.

Godbee knew what was on the line when he decided to pull down his pants. He chose his cheap desires over the 715,000 of us who depend on a better police force.

And that’s a damn shame.

Steve Neavling

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.

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