(NaturalNews) The once-great city of Detroit is continuing to self-implode, a victim of decades of gross mismanagement that borders on the criminal.
The latest sign that this former automobile manufacturing capital of the world is headed for the metropolitan dustbin of history is an announcement last week by none other than the men and women of the Detroit Police Department, who sent out a warning via their local union that their city is too dangerous to visit.
To highlight the danger, city cops held a rally last weekend called, "Enter At Your Own Risk," in front of Comerica Park, "to remind the public that the officers are overworked, understaffed, and at times, fearful for their lives," CBS Detroit, WWJ, reported.
"Detroit is America's most violent city, its homicide rate is the highest in the country and yet the Detroit Police Department is grossly understaffed," Detroit Police Officer Association (DPOA) Attorney Donato Iorio told the affiliate. "The DPOA believes that there is a war in Detroit, but there should be a war on crime, not a war on its officers."
He went on to say the department's one-time force of 2,000 personnel has shrunk rapidly; since the beginning of summer, hundreds of officers have stepped down and left the department.
'No police, no peace'
"These are the men and women who we look to protect us... and police officers can't protect you if they're not there," Iorio said. "Officers are leaving simply because they can't afford to stay in Detroit and work 12-hour shifts for what they are getting paid... These police officers are beyond demoralized, these officers are leaving hand over fist because they can no longer afford to stay on the department and protect the public," he said.
Hence the police union's warning to visitors.
"The explosion in violent crime, the incredible spike in the number of homicides and for officers trying to work 12 hours in such deplorable, dangerous and war like conditions is simple untenable," he said, adding that despite spiking crime rates, the city has fewer officers now than ever.
"By denying police officers the appropriate manpower, there's a manpower crisis right now, there's 1,000 fewer police officers today than there was 10 years ago, yet the homicide rate is higher. There's more crime now than before, so if anything you need more officers, not fewer officers," he said.
A flier passed out by police during the Oct. 6 rally pointed out that:
-- Detroit is the nation's most violent city.
-- Detroit's homicide rate is the highest in the country.
-- Detroit police officers get paid the lowest of any big city police department.
-- The department is chronically understaffed.
-- Officers have been threatened by the state treasurer with another 10 percent wage cut for going to court to protect their rights.
The flier ends with a simple warning: "No police; no peace."
Shortage of street lights
What's more, the situation is likely to get worse. Detroit is broke, the victim of years of financial mismanagement.
Earlier this summer, Mayor David Bing was forced to sign a $1.12 billion city budget that included $171 million in cuts, the first budget since a court decree gave the state management authority over the beleaguered city.
As of April, the city faced $12 billion in long-term retiree healthcare and pension costs, even as the city faces a sharp decline in population and business.
Before Bing and the City Council agreed to the budget cuts, the city faced a $200 million deficit.
The city's economic problems are so bad that half its street lights don't work. In fact, said one report, "only 35,000 of the 88,000 fixtures in Detroit's lighting system work, according to city chief operating officer Chris Brown."
Bing estimates it will cost $160 million to repair a lighting system that, in some parts of the city, date back to the early 1900s.