Help Wanted

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Continuing from the 1950's, the department had trouble recruiting qualified officers. These times mirrored the early 50's, as the city made a plea for qualified applicants. In 1965, the department was short nine men. The starting salary for rookie officers was $5538 a year and officers were required to change shifts every month. City Personnel Director, Joseph Frisinger, admitted police work was not an occupation where much is given but “much is expected.” Although the department was desperate for men, it would not lower its hiring standards. Many prospective recruits were washed out due to background investigations and “personality defects.”

A bit of controversy erupted between the police and sheriff's department, over comments made by Chief Gainsley and Personnel Director Frisinger in September of 1965. Five city patrolmen resigned from the department and three of them took jobs with the sheriff's department. When interviewed by the Ann Arbor News as to why, both Chief Gainsley and Frisinger said that discipline was the major reason why the officers left.

Chief Gainsley stated, “This department's standards are admittedly high and those standards will not be lowered or altered. This is a time when the maintenance of a good department demands that proper regulations be observed.”

Frisinger stated, “The reason this department is outstanding is that the highest standards possible have been maintained. Those standards include a tight code of discipline required of all officers. This code is to be encouraged and has made the department what is today. To change or reduce the degree of discipline would be to weaken the agency.”

Frisinger admitted the “tight rein” maintained on the patrolmen might cause a morale problem which could cost the department men. “But it would be a mistake to lower the standards of discipline now enforced by Chief Gainsley and his command officers, simply to keep men from resigning,” he said. Frisinger also said that it was possible that some of the men who recently left the department “feel that another agency will enforce less discipline on them.”

Needless to say Sheriff Harvey thought this was an indictment of the sheriff's department and it's men. He registered a strong protest that his department was not “lax on discipline.” Sheriff Harvey stated, “I don't wish to argue terms with anyone but the conclusion left seems to be that we operate a very loose, undisciplined department. This is not only untrue, but unfair to 50 good officers who have accepted and upheld an honest, fair system of departmental discipline.”

In August of 1966, the testing procedures for police officers came under fire from local civil rights groups. These groups stated the testing procedures favored white, middle class males. The department used the Army's “alpha test” as part of its hiring process. This test, said the civil rights groups, had questions in it that persons in the lower classes had no exposure to. One of the questions on the test asked, “In what novel or play does Portia play a leading role?”

City Personnel Director Joseph Frisinger defended the test and process stating from 1964 to 1966, the city received 232 applicants from white males and only 10 from black ones. Of the 10, four were offered employment with the police department.

Frisinger did say that the city leaders and police command were concerned about the low number of minority candidates. It was felt that for the “sake of the community,” police command needed to find a way to attract more minority candidates. Frisinger did meet with the civil rights leaders to go over the test and possible changes to it.

The problems of hiring qualified officers continued and this forced council to approve a 5% wage increase in 1967. With this raise the starting salary for officers was $6,188 a year. City Administrator Guy Larcom stated, “The police department hired 35 officers in the last two years, but had lost 35 to other police departments and firms. This being due to the rate of pay.”