Top cops pushed to pitch in for mayor
Commanders are asked to buy $300 Kilpatrick tickets
July 21, 2005
BY BEN SCHMITT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Detroit police commanders were called to a mandatory meeting this week at which two deputy chiefs asked them to purchase $300 tickets for a re-election fund-raiser for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, union officials said Wednesday, calling the request out of line and coercive.
Arriving at the meeting Monday evening at the Northwest Activities Center, commanders from each of Detroit's 13 police precincts also were asked to sell one ticket each to their subordinate police inspectors, said Inspector Laura Isom, president of the Detroit Police Command Officers Association.
"They were all put in an awkward situation, and they shouldn't have to feel that way," Isom said. "If you're my boss and you order me to a meeting like this, that's coercion to me."
Deputy Chiefs Ralph Godbee and Robert Dunlap, who called the meeting, declined to comment. In a letter to Isom on Wednesday, Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said commanders were told their participation was voluntary.
"I find that your insinuation that command officers were being pressured is unfounded," Bully-Cummings said in a letter to Isom.
Isom had been seeking written assurances from the chief that commanders weren't being required to support the mayor's re-election effort.
"I don't think the chief addresses the issue. I disagree with her. I think they were coerced," Isom said.
Isom sent a letter of her own to union members Tuesday, saying the meeting may have violated a state law which prohibits an elected official from coercing or attempting to coerce a public employee to pay or contribute anything of value to the person seeking office.
"No member of the DPCOA should feel in any way intimidated by such tactics," Isom said in the letter.
The fund-raiser was to be held Wednesday night at Cobo Hall.
Police spokesman James Tate said, "The mayor had nothing to do with this whatsoever." Kilpatrick administration spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett did not return a call Wednesday.
Inspector Billy McFarley of the 13th (Woodward) Precinct attended the meeting and said he did not feel pressured to purchase the ticket.
"Nothing was mandatory," he said. "When they call a meeting, I go. No gun was held to my head."
McFarley said he didn't buy a ticket at the meeting.
Isom said the fact that commanders were called to the meeting qualifies as undue pressure, even if some commanders didn't feel that way.
Last month, Kilpatrick told the Free Press editorial board "we've never asked anyone to buy tickets."
He continued: "You definitely ask them to participate in selling them. We don't force anybody to sell any tickets, let me just say that. ... I'm not going to do an executive order to say you can't help the team. No, I'm not doing that."
Contact BEN SCHMITT at 313-223-4296 or email@example.com