Formation of the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association

In 1955, Ann Arbor Patrolmen formed an association which was allowable under state charter. Officers felt woefully underpaid and felt an association would help raise their wages. The Ann Arbor Police Officers Association was legally recognized in May of 1955. The association caused great excitement among the ranks, who wished for wage increases, but also thought it would assist in their relationship with the chief.. This was the second time the officers attempted to form a labor association, the first of which took place in 1942.

Chief Enkemann not only approved of the association but encouraged it. He felt it would focus on professional issues and would act as a means of communicating grievances to the him.

The association's charter was as follows:

  1. To perpetuate the memory and spirit of police officers who have given their lives in pursuit of duty.
  2. To promote social fellowship, closer personal acquaintance and economic stability for the members of the association.
  3. To promote the spirit of cooperation and a high regard for the dignity and altruism of our calling among ourselves and to uphold the police officer's pledge, not to strike.
  4. To create a wholesome influence on the citizens of Ann Arbor and particularly to inculcate respect for law and order.
  5. To gather, receive and disseminate such information concerning police services and employment standards as may be helpful to our membership, in the pursuit of our calling.
  6. To give full co-operation to and arrange unified action with the administrative heads of the department, for betterment of it.
  7. To provide a method of co-operating with the officials of the department as now organized and to co-operate in carrying out any changes made necessary by the adoption of the new charter of the City of Ann Arbor and to provide a method of assisting in arbitrating grievances, relating to departmental affairs affecting members of this association.
  8. To provide for hearings and discussions with the department heads, police commission and city administrator and working toward betterment of morale, working conditions and grievances of members of this association.

This association was sorely needed to attempt to elevate pay as the department lost eleven officers to private industry in September of 1955. This depletion of personnel forced the officers into working 12 hour days.

Chief Enkemann was livid with the low rate of pay for his officers and the manpower shortage. A National Safety Council study was commissioned and recommended that the department add 14 new officers. Chief Enkemann responded to the study stating, “This city won't pay an officer what he deserves, we can't even fill the positions we have open now.”

According to the commission, the city was understaffed and recommended the employment of 80 officers, not the 60 that it had at the time. Chief Enkemann rallied for his officers and stated, “I think it is ridiculous that the city government compares police work with other sections of city salaries. They refuse to boost police pay, because they say if one group gets a raise, the others want one too. But the same officials are the ones who demand that officers stand head and shoulders above other city employees, physically, mentally and morally. We can hire all the men we want tomorrow, but we turn them away by the dozens. These are not the ones we want to guard the City of Ann Arbor. We can't hire the good ones because we cannot compete with industry in pay.”

Some responded that the officer's wages were not that far below the national average. Chief Enkemann responded to this stating, “The sacrifices an officer has to make, the bad hours, the hours he puts in without pay, the on call phase, these things are worth the salary before he does any work.

“Take a look at the overtime setup for the police. Hourly city employees are guaranteed a 40 hour work week and are paid for all overtime. A police officer can work an eight hour day and all night and won't get a cent for his overtime. My boys make an arrest at night and during the day, when they should be sleeping, they have to come to court and testify at a trial. No pay for that either.” Obviously Chief Enkemann was not happy with the situation!

Due to the chief's statement, the city council met and agreed a pay raise was probably necessary. Police Commissioner Rudolph Reichert stated the chief spoke very clearly on the subject. “We don't get the new men we need and should have and can't keep the ones we have,” he stated. “Employment is high and we are not meeting the competition.” The situation became worse in April of 1956, when two officers were fired and two resigned. Interest in the association eventually diminished and it was not until 1960 that it was re-established.

Due to the shortage of officers a help wanted ad for officers was placed in the Ann Arbor News. The chief was very disappointed that an ad had to be run to fill vacant positions. He believed it was terrible, as the department had always relied on word of mouth and job seekers themselves to fill these positions.

Due to this manpower shortage, the chief asked for permission to hire four women to handle the police radio, teletype and phones. The city council approved this recommendation, which was designed to release more officers to work outside the police station. Chief Enkemann advised city council that the women would work in an enclosed area. Due to this statement, one would assume that the chief was concerned with the women's safety and did not want them to have any contact with prisoners.

Starting salary for the women was $3,400 a year and “women between the ages of 25 and 35 were preferred.” Although it may be hard to believe that women were treated so differently from men, this was a sign of the times. These first female dispatchers hired were Phyllis McClain, Marlene Raboteau, Gloria Horn and Dora Mayer. Mrs. McClain was the first one to report for a shift, making her the first female dispatcher.

Chief Enkemann later stated, “I am quite happy with their work for the department. They have learned the job well and are efficient and polite when dealing with the public. Our experiment has definitely proved successful.”