Wayne County commissioner ridicules Sheriff after tethered teen's murder

Could 14-year-old's shooting death been avoided if Sheriff budgeted department differently?

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - Dionte Dixon was shot to death last week.

The 14-year-old was being monitored on an electronic tether. However, the battery died, prompting officers to go out to pick him up.

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

They couldn't find the teen. He had bolted from his father's west Detroit home. They wee looking for him when the Wayne County Sheriff's management team called to alert them that their unit -- the Juvenile Enforcement Bureau -- had been disbanded and they were being transferred to the Wayne County Jail.

The police officers union claims the officers would have found Dionte and prevented his death had they been left on the job.

The Sheriff's choice to disband the unit is making County Commissioner Shannon Price angry.

"(The Sheriff) is doing this to get the biggest public outcry he can ... rather than cutting down non-essential services like road patrol and moving those deputies into the jail," said Price.

Sheriff Benny Napoleon was not available on Monday to discuss his decision but his spokeswoman, Paula Bridges, laid out his defense.

"The Sheriff would prefer that these officers be in the streets, boots on the ground fighting crime. He has asked for funding for their positions. He's asked for funding for Internet crimes. He's asked for funding for road patrol and also for the marine unit. He's fighting for those efforts in the community," said Bridges.

That's not good enough for Price. He has written a letter to the county's Child Welfare Department asking for a full accounting for how all of this transpired since most of the money for the Juvenile Enforcement Bureau comes from the state.

"I think the Sheriff likes to point the finger at everybody else instead of taking responsibility. The time has come, he has to stand up and take responsibility for his department and make the right decisions," said Price.

The entire situation has many on the Wayne County Commission frustrated with the decision because they say there are easier and less painful ways to solve this problem. They say Napoleon just doesn't want to do the heavy lifting of serious budget cutting.

Rod Meloni: Pure politics and needless tragedy

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