Sheriff budget cuts may be tied to Detroit teen's death

Wayne County Warrant Enforcement officers pulled off street to work in jail

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - The death of a 14-year-old Detroit boy is being blamed, in part, on budget cuts in the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

Dionte Dixon had been ordered to wear a court-ordered tether as part of the Juvenile Detention program. But the battery in the tether died. Wayne County Warrant Enforcement officers went out to find Dionte to bring him home and put him back under electronic supervision.

But while those deputies were out looking for the teen, they were ordered to return to their office, because their unit was being disbanded and they were being reassigned to the Wayne County Jail because of problems spending on overtime for other deputies.

Dionte Dixon was shot and killed outside an east side Detroit home.

His father, Kirk Dixon, is devastated.

"This hurts. My heart's broken," Dixon said.

Corporal Brian Earle is outraged. He is the union chief for those deputies.

"These twelve officers will not make an impact on the overtime problems with the jail, but these officers make a major impact on the protection of the citizens and getting these juveniles off the street," Earle said.

Wayne County Commissioner Diane Webb also is angry.

"So how do you pull the plug on an operation that critical without anybody providing that service, leaving these kids hanging out there. You can't do that," Webb said.

The situation shows the tension between the offices of the sheriff and the county executive, Bob Ficano.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon released a statement.

"In response to the budget crisis and t the commission's urging to put every available officer into the jails, the CEO, Bob Ficano, approved the sheriff's request to transfer web officers to the jail to fill positions left vacant due to the hiring process. The tragic loss of this young man emphasizes what we have been saying. We need the jails and external units appropriately funded, so they can continue providing critical law enforcement services," Napoleon said.

The county executive's office told Local 4 it is up to the sheriff to decide where his officers go. The executive's office said there are 26 other sheriff's units and some of those could have been sent to the jail. The suggestion is that the sheriff took the warrant enforcement officers off the street, knowing problems would result.

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