Detroit police chief steps down amid sex probe

Associated Press Modified: October 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012
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DETROIT (AP) — Detroit's police chief stepped down Monday after a week of embarrassing revelations about a sexual relationship with a subordinate, forcing the city to search for a fifth leader in four years for a department dealing with one of the nation's highest violent-crime rates.

Ralph Godbee was hired two years ago to replace a predecessor fired following an affair with a female officer who allegedly also had a relationship with Godbee. His departure extends the revolving door of leadership in a cash-strapped city. Detroit's next chief will be its 10th since 1991, and several of those were forced out amid allegations of wrongdoing.

"Not having a stable head makes the rest of it unstable," former Detroit Police Chief Isaiah McKinnon said of the musical chairs in the city's top cop's office. "The officers are going to go out and try to do their jobs, but you need a stable head."

Godbee stepped down after married internal affairs officer Angelica Robinson said she and the married chief had a yearlong sexual relationship. It was the second alleged tryst with a subordinate to surface against Godbee since he became chief in 2010.

Robinson posted a photo on Twitter of her with a police gun in her mouth. Her attorney, David Robinson, said the photo was posted after she learned Godbee was at a police conference a week ago in San Diego with another woman. He said Godbee had other officers locate Angelica Robinson and put her under surveillance.

There was no mention of the scandal in an eight-paragraph letter Godbee sent to Mayor Dave Bing announcing what was described as a "retirement." Bing insisted he didn't push the 25-year veteran to leave but called it the "right decision."

"He was very contrite, I think embarrassed," Bing said at a news conference. "He felt he had let me down. He felt he had let the department down. He felt he had let the citizens of Detroit down. We're not perfect individuals, and a lot of us make mistakes. This one was very costly."

As the city begins its search, police rank-and-file are becoming more vocal about a 10-percent pay cut and 12-hour work shifts enacted near the end of Godbee's tenure. Bing's office contends those cuts and others are necessary to help reduce a budget deficit of more than $200 million and to help keep Detroit out of state receivership.

McKinnon, who led the police department for four years in the mid-1990s and resigned to teach at a local university, said the city should also look outside the ranks for its new chief.

"Detroit, traditionally, has been somewhat of an enclosed city," McKinnon said. "For some reason, we are reluctant to bring outsiders in ... particularly in law enforcement. The feeling is Detroiters know Detroit better."

The track record in recent years, however, has been shaky.

Godbee's predecessor, Warren Evans, was unceremoniously dumped by Bing in 2010 for taking part in a promotional video for a cable police reality show. Bing later said he also fired Evans because the chief was romantically involved with a lieutenant. It later was learned that Godbee also had a relationship with that female officer when he held the rank of assistant chief.

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