The 'Association of Patrolmen'

Labor problems were not hard to deal with in the early days of the department as the officers had no union or civil service protection. Officers were forced to accept the conditions set forth within the department or find employment elsewhere. Officers often complained privately about their working conditions, but the controversy over the promotion of Officer Robert Mayfield to sergeant, was one of the first times they went public with their concerns.

Officer Robert Mayfield had been with the department for a short period of time when he was promoted by the police commission to sergeant in April of 1942. This caused an uproar within the department, as many of the officers passed over for promotion had much more seniority than him.

The police commission made promotions solely on a vote by the majority of the three person committee. When the officers found that they had voted to promote Officer Mayfield, over many senior officers, they sent a stinging letter to the commission. In this letter, dated April 28, 1942, the officers announced the formation of the “Association of Patrolmen” of which Officer James Ogilvy was elected as Chairman.

The Association made a number of requests to the commission, listed verbatim from the letter;

  1. That promotion to any rank in the Ann Arbor Police Department above that of patrolman, should be based on seniority and competitive examination based upon rules as set up by a Civil Service Commission.
  2. That contemplation of a fundamental change in the department as to personnel, working conditions, promotions or any change that would effect the members of the department, as a whole; shall be bought to the attention of the group of members known as the “Association of Patrolmen,” to determine their opinion.
  3. That any action that is taken pertaining to the policy of the department that would affect the working conditions of the members of the department; the voice of the majority of the members of the department should be followed.
  4. That any member of the department, unless conditions absolutely forbid, should not be given preference to their day of leave; and that the day of Sunday should be granted to every member of the department in proper order; and that no member other than office personnel and detectives, may have more than two consecutive Sundays off or more than four in the fiscal year.
  5. That any person operating the police radio as a dispatcher shall be classed as a patrolman and shall not have any more privileges than those of a patrolman as to leave days.
  6. That any member of the police department must have at least five years of service in the department before he can qualify for a higher rank.
  7. That any question of deferment in the Army of the United States, a policy should be adopted whereas every man shall be given an equal consideration regardless of rank or position.
  8. Be it further resolved that the position of sergeant granted to Officer Mayfield is in the opinion of the undersigned an unjust act and created without due respect to the seniority and qualifications of various members of the department and that this act in itself, has given the final impetus to organize the Association of Patrolmen so that our rights will be respected.
  9. It is therefore our opinion that the position of sergeant granted Officer Mayfield, is not recognized by us and that it be revoked and that he be put in the same status as that of his fellow officers. It should be stated at this time, that there is no personal animosity between the men and Officer Mayfield for he is well liked by the entire force; but it is only a sense of justice and fair play that brings us to this opinion.
  10. It is also our opinion that Commissioner Saxton should not be re-appointed due to various unfair practices which he has performed, which in our opinion has greatly lowered the morale of the department.
  11. That any action taken against any signer of these requests, shall be considered as action taken against the group as a body.

The letter was signed by 21 officers.

Obviously the officers feared some type of retaliation for the formation of their association. Once the letter was received, the police commission held a meeting on May 1, 1942, to discuss it. They decided to uphold the promotion of Sgt. Mayfield, even after receiving a letter from him in which he declined it. Sgt. Mayfield wrote to the commission that his promotion has “hurt me more than I am able to state at this time.”

The commission also took offense to the insinuations that the officers would be retaliated against. They stated in the minutes from the meeting that they “expressed disapproval of the entire manner in which the petition was drawn up and handled, especially item 11.”

I do not know what became of the “Association of Patrolmen” as this was the only documentation of it I could find. It is clear that this association began the officer's movement towards some type of labor organization.