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Published: Tuesday, 7/23/2013

Collins seeks end to double-dipping

‘Retired’ city managers would be cut

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Toledo mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins meets with The Blade editorial board Monday. Toledo mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins meets with The Blade editorial board Monday.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins said if he were elected mayor, he would move to replace management employees who have retired and returned to work, including Police Chief Derrick Diggs.

Mr. Collins is a political independent and one of seven candidates on the ballot Sept. 10 for mayor, along with a certified write-in candidate.

Mr. Collins was interviewed Monday by The Blade’s editorial board as part of its process for making a primary election endorsement in the mayoral contest.

Mr. Collins, who was a patrol officer for 27 years and head of the patrolmen’s union for 10 years, was critical of Chief Diggs’ appointment and of his returning to the job after retiring in March.

He took issue with the police chief’s methods of reporting crime to the public and of the administration’s expenditure of $1.6 million on a series of police-surveillance cameras installed in high-crime areas.

“I don’t believe he should have come back in as chief of police,” Mr. Collins said. “I think that sends a stagnant message to the other people in the department. He was brought in for the sole and simple reason that he and Mike Bell have been friends forever.”

Mr. Collins promised that as mayor he would “gently” ease out people who had retired and bring in younger managers, as well as downsize the management ranks.

Mr. Collins said that he might have difficulty replacing Chief Diggs because of a requirement in the city charter to show just cause.

Chief Diggs retired under the city’s retirement incentive program March 21 and was rehired March 25. Chief Diggs has been in charge of the department since October, 2011.

“If he wants just cause, I will give him just cause as to why he should be replaced,” Mr. Collins said

Just cause, Mr. Collins charged, would be “misrepresenting truths, cooking numbers in crime stats.”

He said the city does not report felony thefts and said that many burglaries are downgraded by investigators to property destruction.

“They have to make a justification for this $1.6-million venture called ‘sky cops,’ ” Mr. Collins said.

Chief Diggs did not return a phone call to his office for comment Monday.

Police spokesman Joe Heffernan said the mayor appointed Chief Diggs because of his confidence in his abilities to do the job and because he is getting a pension check says nothing about his qualifications for the job.

Mr. Collins himself is retired from the police department and getting a check from the city of Toledo. It would be up to the voters whether he is hired as a councilman or mayor, he said.

Mr. Collins said the surveillance cameras have not resulted in prosecutions or recoveries of stolen vehicles and said “sky cops” TV screens are not monitored at night and on weekends.

Sergeant Heffernan said the cameras are monitored 24 hours a day and cited an example from this weekend.

He said he worked a patrol shift Saturday night and was alerted by an officer monitoring “sky cops” to a woman being assaulted in the Greenbelt Place apartment complex.

The sergeant said he found the woman, confirmed that she had been assaulted, and told her the video would be tagged and available for evidence if she chose to file charges. He was not aware if the woman had come forward Monday to file charges.

“A large part of these cameras is the deterrence,” Sergeant Heffernan said.

Sergeant Heffernan said the city does not report thefts to the FBI because it cannot afford the clerical staff to do that.

He said the crimes the police department tracks internally and the crime that is reported to the FBI are consistent with each other.

“Our tracked crime since the chief’s taken office is down over 20 percent. Our UCR [Uniform Crime Reporting] numbers are tracking down at the same percentage. It may be counted a little differently, but our overall crimes are tracking the same,” he said.

Mr. Collins cited his master’s degree in business management from the University of Toledo and said he would bring in a “completely new model of management.”

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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