The City of Dayton Police Department disbanded its robbery squad Monday, Oct. 8, in a reorganization that some local experts said will inhibit the department’s ability to prevent and investigate robbery and theft around the University of Dayton’s campus.
The unit’s five members were not laid off but dispersed throughout the department’s five operational patrol divisions, according to UD chief of police and director of Public Safety Bruce Burt. Burt spoke with several division leaders within the city police department regarding the reorganization.
With the disbandment of the robbery squad, robbery and theft investigations will be handled by the patrol division that presides over the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred, he said.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44 in Dayton is vehemently opposed to the decentralization and its president, Randy Beane, said he anticipates that the reorganization will lead to an increase in break-ins, robbery and vehicle theft in areas like the South Park neighborhood around UD’s campus.
The local FOP president, who has decades of police experience and headed the City of Dayton’s homicide unit, opposes decentralization because it “minimizes the exchange of information and collaboration among the department’s divisions and prevents those with specialty experience to effectively do their job.”
Beane also said that this change could affect the crime rate in the area.
“This isn’t Beverly Hills, this is Dayton, Ohio, and we have real crime here,” Beane said. “Now, instead of having detectives who specialize in robbery investigations, it’s going to fall to the patrolmen who may have a lot of experience in other areas but not robbery.
“I think what we’re going to see is a drop in prosecution rate and an increase in crime in the areas surrounding UD and then it’s going to be harder to patrol the actual campus.”
Burt said he’s indifferent to the city police’s reorganization and believes that it won’t have a major impact on campus security.
“We already handle everything that goes on within our own borders,” Burt said. “We do our own patrolling and detective work pretty successfully within our jurisdiction and none of that is going to change.”
UD police and the Dayton Police Department are independent police departments, but have a mutual aid agreement which defines the campus area under UD’s patrol.
Randy Groesbeck, a university police major and director of administration and security for Public Safety, said this academic year’s crime is around a normal level, but said there has been an increase in the number of reported robberies.
While Beane said the local FOP lodge is opposed to the decentralization primarily for the citizens’ safety and security, the group has filed grievances to arbitration through the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and is contemplating filing a federal law suit against the department for age discrimination.
The decentralization reassigned three veteran robbery detectives back to patrol operations — a move that Beane said was perpetrated to force them into early retirement.
“It’s a young man’s game,” Beane said. “It’s not that these guys can’t do it but they’re older and they’re not going to be able to mix it up with some of these younger thugs on the street like they used to.”
But Tim Apolito, a professor in the criminal justice studies program who served in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, said the department’s motivations were most likely rooted in matters of efficiency and finance rather than forcing officers into an early retirement.
“It’s not uncommon at all to redistribute command and manpower within a department,” he said. “I’ve been through several cycles of centralization and decentralization.”
Still, some students on campus are concerned about the disbandment of the robbery squad. Toby Hills, a 19-year-old sociology major is concerned about the change.
“I think campus will be left more vulnerable,” he said. “There have been far too many robberies this year and now we don’t have access to the experts we used to and public safety can’t be everywhere.”
Members of the Dayton police department were unavailable for comment.