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Detroit Police Department To Close Offices After 4 P.M., Offer 'Virtual Precincts'

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A budget shakeup is forcing some drastic changes in the Detroit Police Department. Effective Monday, the city's police precincts will no longer remain open around the clock.

According to a document obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the department plans to eliminate numerous desk jobs and transfer police working in office positions to street patrols during night-time hours. Between 4 p.m and 8 a.m., the public must make reports through a call center, under a new system of "virtual police precincts," the Detroit News reports.

"I think it's going to work," Detroit Police Commander Steve Dolunt told the Free Press. "I think it'll get the officers more involved [with citizens]."

A supervisor and another staff member will be present at physical precincts to handle basic functions, as will officers who deal with prisoners, the Free Press reports.

Another new policy will reassign police detectives to a central Criminal Investigation division starting Feb. 6.

The department will make a formal announcement about the policy changes Thursday. They come on the heels of an earlier announcement this week that the department plans to lay off 108 officers.

Lower-seniority police personnel should receive pink slips in a few weeks, but according to Fox 2, a high-ranking police source said the officers would not ultimately lose their positions.

The layoffs are coming because Police Chief Ralph Godbee needs to reapply for a federal grant, the source told Fox 2, and those officers must be off the books in order to qualify for funding.

In November, Mayor Dave Bing announced plans to cut 1,000 city employees to shore up Detroit's budget, and some City Council members suggested further layoffs in the police and fire departments. The city will begin announcing layoffs starting the week of Jan 21.

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