Detroit's Ninth Precinct special ops officers leave unit

Some Detroit police officers say their job has become even more dangerous because of a new department policy. 

A FOX  2 exclusive, Detroit's Ninth Precinct is now without a special operations unit.  

The northeast side is arguably the most dangerous part of the city and up until three weeks ago, Detroit police had a special operations unit working in full force.

A veteran cop who does not want to be identified is just one of 22 officers that made up the special ops unit.

"To think that the most violent precinct in the country has no proactive element to their policing is a pretty crazy thing to think about," he said. "I cannot  remember a time when there was not a special operations unit in the Ninth Precinct."

They all chose to leave and go back to working patrol after higher ups mandated they ride two men to a car, when for years they rode with three.

"The officers feel better about it," the officer said. "It is more of an officer safety issue for us. It's more eyes and in the event of something like a foot pursuit when we jump out on somebody and they're armed and they take off. With a two man unit, one officer has to stay with the car and the other is chasing a known armed offender by himself and that's just not safe."

Just how unsafe? This police officer has been shot at six times in the past seven years. One of his partners has been in four shootings this year alone.

"One he walked up on an armed robbery in progress and the individual turned and fired at him and his partner," he said.

The Ninth Precinct special operations unit took their concerns up the ladder all the way  to Chief James Craig but they say he did not budge.

"What it conveyed to us was that there was a lack of concern for officer safety," he said. 

"I can understand why they would make that a concern," said Capt. Rodney Cox.  "Because they are accustomed to working three cars and there are certain type of enforcement efforts that come with working three man units."

Cox commands the Ninth Precinct and says the transition to two man cars allows DPD to cover more ground and special ops members going to patrol actually gives them a better uniformed presence.

Cox says task force units are filling the special ops void until the ranks are replenished and already they've collared a violent criminal without it.

"We were able to capture a robbery suspect that we believe was responsible for a spree of robberies that we believe just took place this weekend," Cox said. "Were it not for the task force cars, there's a possibility that may not have happened."

But this former special ops member says don't believe the hype.

"You're kind of robbing peter to pay paul," said the officer. 

He said the precinct forced a patrol car to look for that suspect and consequently left that shift short two cops. 

And as for the task force units:

"My concern is you're taking a task force away from what they truly should be focusing on," he said. "To come over and handle one specific area of the city because you don't have a special operations unit to handle that anymore." 

DPD says it could have the Ninth Precinct's special operations unit back up and running in a couple of weeks. But many former members are concerned they may be replaced with younger officers not experienced enough.

It's also worth noting the special operations unit from the Fifth Precinct came close to leaving their jobs to work as patrolmen because of this two man car mandate.