DETROIT -

An effort is kicking off to strengthen Detroit’s police force amid the demanding cuts the department is facing.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee on Thursday said the plan is to bring in more officers who are trained, but not paid.

The key are reserve officers.

Reserve officers are in uniform, carry a gun and are often called in to work big city events, like America’s Thanksgiving Parade. But they are volunteers.

Godbee said the reserves are a huge, untapped resource.

“Our goal is to increase our capacity by about 200 to 250 reserve officers, which will give us a tremendous amount of energy and resources,” Godbee said.

That number would currently double the number of reserves.

To help boost the numbers, the city is adding a new requirement.

“Prior to being hired as a Detroit police officer, you must serve as a reservist first,” explained Godbee.

About 1,500 people apply each year to become a Detroit police officer.

Bing is also supporting another means to help the force – a millage that would be on the ballot in the fall.  

“The citizens of Detroit must feel safe at whatever cost. In supporting the millage, I am simply supporting the people’s right to decide if they want to pay additional tax to support our police and fire departments,” Bing said.