Bowens: The New Shiny Detroit Cop Cars Have Serious Safety Issues

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A person in the back seat can reach through safety partition.

Freelance writer Greg Bowens was press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. He is also a local political consultant and public relations professional. 

By Greg Bowens

Fix the police cars donated by the corporate community -- NOW.

If that seems ungrateful, so be it.

But there’s some serious safety problems with the newest Detroit police cars that were donated by the captains of industry in Metro Detroit.

For one, a prisoner in the back seat of the car can easily reach through the partition separating the front and back seat, thanks to some flimsy Plexiglass that was installed. Yes, sometimes prisoners slip out of their handcuffs.

Secondly, the equipment and the car was designed so that the front seat passenger barely has room to sit.

That’s a comfort problem for an 8 or 10 hour shift. It also creates a safety problem if the car crashes -- and believe me it happens -- and the air bag is detonated. If officers are sitting improperly in the seat, pressed up against the dashboard, that can be very dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong. Some cops are grateful to have new cars. There are old ones with bullet holes and ones that are in miserable condition, if they run at all.

Unfortunately, in the rush to get them out there, and for corporations to take a bow and bathe in the adulation of the public, the cars were handed over with little regard for the safety of the officers, who work in a risky environment as it is.

Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, got complaints from officers about those problems. He said he’s talked to the powers that be and has been assured the problems are being addressed.  But as of the last few days, we checked on some cars, which still were not fixed.  We've submitted questions to the police department and  await an answer.

Sure, it’s great the corporate community forked over these, Mattel-like, hot wheels cars with the pretty pictures of Detroit’s skyline, so they could be paraded as quickly as possible down Woodward.

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A police officer demonstrates how tight the front passenger seat is.

But the kindness will be of little comfort to a family of a cop who is injured from the careless retrofitting of these cars, for the poor passenger seating placement, for the flimsy seat partitions.

Yes, in the end, the families of cops can say: “Oh thank you, thank you emergency manager, mayor, city council, police commission and brass for putting my husband, mother, sister, wife in those shiny new police cars without making sure, damn sure, they would be safe to operate. “ 

Thank you all.

The upside these days is that fewer cops have a chance of being injured in these new cars. That’s because they’re leaving the department. Pension cuts. Pay cuts. Lack of resources. Lack of manpower. Those have all been incentives to flee.

Now, they have another reason to leave. They see that the captains of industry and the city don’t really care much about their safety.

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The new Detroit Police cars.

Again, not to sound ungrateful.

But fix these cars.
 

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