New proposal will use sheriff's office to boost Tigers games security

Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-13 21:27:48-04

Security may look a little different at Tigers games in 2017.

The Wayne County Sherrif's Office wants to help pump up security at Tiger's games and other Ilitch Holdings venues.

Right now, Detroit police provide security mainly outside of Comerica Park, dealing with traffic and safety issues.

According to a proposed plan, you may soon see Wayne County Sheriff's officers around sporting and concert events.

Under the plan, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office will provide staffing for these events.

Detroit police do not charge Ilitch Holdings for security, but the Wayne County Sheriff's Office will.

The Sherrif's Office says having the opportunity to provide security would be beneficial for both parties: extra security at the venue, while officers get a chance to do something different in an environment outside of jails or courtrooms.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office released this statement

Under this proposed plan, Ilitch Holdings will reimburse the County for all services rendered.  The reason you didn't see any mention of this in the MOA is because the MOA is a Memorandum of Understanding between the County, as an employer, and the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), the union that represents police officers that work at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.  The MOA is necessary because certain provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), commonly referred to as a labor contract, needed to be modified in order to establish the conditions necessary for the officers to provide the duties for Ilitch Holdings.  The County will enter into a separate contract with Ilitch Holdings to recoup expenditures associated with the provision of service.

It’s well-known there are manpower issues at the sheriff’s office. Will we be able to handle this extra work?  It is very true that the Sheriff’s Office is working with a reduced staff and that its officers work quite a bit of overtime.  It is also true that the Sheriff’s Office has a high attrition rate, with a number of its officers separating from service each month so that they may obtain employment with other law enforcement agencies and, sometimes, in the private sector.  It has been determined that many of these officers resign because they believe their new employer offers better overall working conditions.  The County is excited to pursue this opportunity with Ilitch Holdings. It is the County’s belief that the endeavor will assist in its efforts to both recruit and retain.  Many officers are stuck in various assignments throughout the Sheriff’s Office and it is believed that the ability to work in a different environment, one which comprises popular sporting events and the ability to deal with the general public in a manner which they are currently precluded from doing, will expose them to a different dimension of police work and lead to an increase in morale and retention. 

The MOA has been carefully crafted to provide relief to the officers that work in the jails.  The relief will come in the form of officers, those that normally work in assignments in other areas of the Sheriff’s Office, to fill in for short staffed shifts in the Jails that would have otherwise been staffed by jail officers working an additional shift on overtime.  The changes in the MOA will also provide officers typically assigned to work in an inside environment, such as the jails or the courts, to work in a different setting. 

This opportunity has been carefully scrutinized and the MOA was crafted with a great deal of input from the union’s leadership.  The County is confident it will be able to provide police service to Ilitch Holdings and that it will be able to actually improve the working conditions of its employees and the likelihood of officer retention.  It is also believed that the provision of police service to Ilitch Holdings will enhance the image of the Sheriff’s Office and lead to greater opportunities for police officer recruitment.  This is a win-win situation for both Ilitch Holdings and Wayne County.  

Detroit Police Chief James Craig welcomes the idea, especially with the Little Caesars Arena opening.

He says it's common in other city's for the Sherrif's Office and Police department work sporting events together.

"Let's face it when you look at what's going right now with multiple sporting events, potentially going on at the same time, why wouldn't we want to consider reaching out and touching our partners, it's just makes good corporate sense," he said.

Chief Craig plans to meet with the director of security at Ilitch Holdings.

We reached out to the company for a comment, but have not heard back yet.