Warren Police Department eyes return to budgeted strength

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 5, 2021

 The city’s current budget includes funding for 216 sworn police officers. That number also includes 27 corporals, 17 sergeants, 10 lieutenants, two captains, the deputy commissioner and the commissioner.

The city’s current budget includes funding for 216 sworn police officers. That number also includes 27 corporals, 17 sergeants, 10 lieutenants, two captains, the deputy commissioner and the commissioner.

File photo by Brian Louwers

Advertisement

WARREN — Down two dozen officers for most of 2020, the Warren Police Department is eyeing a return to full, budgeted strength by July.

On March 25, Police Commissioner William Dwyer said the department had hired 10 new officers over the last two months and that they were looking to add four or five more in April.

“We hope to fill all vacancies by July,” Dwyer said when asked about the Warren Police Department’s recent traffic enforcement effort targeting speeders and drag racing along Mound Road.

He said the department had been “criticized for not taking appropriate action,” when they haven’t had the resources.

“We were down 24 officers for most of last year, which made it very difficult to focus on traffic issues. We were responding to runs and didn’t have the resources,” Dwyer said. “That’s six officers per shift that we were down. That deficiency was detrimental to our efforts as far as traffic enforcement.”

Members of the Warren City Council have pressed for answers about the hiring process, while Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and other administrators have cited difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, increased competition for hiring first responders and the challenges presented by a climate across the country that has made finding candidates increasingly difficult.

Mike Sauger, president of the Warren Police Officers Association, who also serves as the president of the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police state lodge, said the 2020-2021 budget included 158 rank-and-file police officers, a number that should increase to 163 after July 1. He said the number of vacancies last year was accurate, but that administration officials and members of the City Council had expressed support for filling all open positions.

“I think it’s a great thing to be up to full staff, to be able to not just be reactive, but back proactive policing again,” Sauger said.

The city’s current budget includes funding for 216 sworn officers, a number that also includes 27 corporals, 17 sergeants, 10 lieutenants, two captains, the deputy commissioner and the commissioner.

Both Dwyer and Sauger said the department made strides in finding qualified applicants by moving the hiring process in-house. It was previously handled by the city’s Human Resources Department.

“I think that they needed help. They didn’t have the resources. We have the resources, and I was in charge of hiring police officers for 23 years when I was in Detroit,” Dwyer said. “We know what we have to go through: the list, backgrounds, oral boards.”

He said police administration worked with the WPOA to develop a list of available candidates in the academies or neighboring jurisdictions.  

Sauger said the process is working, despite the ongoing challenges of the world in 2021.

“The reality is when you put all of the COVID challenges behind you, we’ve found a way to get through all of those. We have support of the council, we have the support of the mayor, to get the hiring done. We’ve brought it in-house, in the station. We’re doing it within the Police Department. We’re streamlining the process,” Sauger said. “We are recruiting in the academies.

“From a city of Warren standpoint, that’s going great. From an outside the city or outside law enforcement standpoint, there’s still communities, there’s still areas, there’s still people not in this profession and leaving this profession just based on the outside climate, some of the anti-policing type of stuff,” Sauger said.

Now a veteran of 23 years, he said law enforcement is still a “rewarding career” that’s grown more technical through his years of work.

“Day in and day out, it’s something different you do, every single day,” Sauger said. “It’s a feeling of satisfaction by helping the citizens and helping the community. I know in the city of Warren, our citizens do respect us. They do like the job we’re doing and they continue to support us.

“When you find a community that supports you and is behind you, that’s a great place to be a police officer,” Sauger said.

Advertisement