DETROIT — 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.
During a news conference, Mayor Dave Bing said he didn’t force Ralph Godbee’s departure after 25 years in the department and the last two as chief. Still, he said it was the “right decision” for Godbee to leave.
“He was very contrite, I think embarrassed,” Bing said. “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.”
Godbee has not publicly commented on the revelations of his affair with Angelica Robinson, an internal-affairs officer. There was no mention of the scandal in an eight-paragraph letter from Godbee to Bing that announced the retirement. A copy was released to reporters after the news conference.
Bing placed Godbee on a 30-day suspension last week pending an investigation into the claims by Robinson’s attorney that the 37-year-old woman had wanted the relationship to end but that Godbee did not.
Robinson posted a photo of herself with her police gun in her mouth on the social media site Twitter after learning Godbee was at a police conference a week ago in San Diego with another woman, attorney David Robinson said.
He said Godbee had other officers locate Angelica Robinson and put her under surveillance.
The scandal is another punch in the gut for a department already demoralized by the city’s financial woes. Beat officers are working 12-hour days on top of having to take 10 percent pay cuts.
“We cannot look at this incident as an indictment across the entire 2,600-plus police officers,” Bing said. “They’re under a lot of stress and strain. I sympathize with them. I empathize with them.”
Godbee was appointed to the $140,400-a-year chief’s job in 2010, after Warren Evans was fired partly for a relationship with another officer, Lt. Monique Patterson.
Godbee also had a romantic relationship with Patterson when she was his subordinate and before she began dating Evans.
The mayor told reporters Monday that he had talked to Godbee “on more than one occasion” about his relationships.
“He confided in me that he had changed his ways,” Bing said. “I had no reason not to believe that. … He didn’t live up to those expectations and it leads us to where we are.”
Godbee joined the department in 1987 at age 19 and rose to assistant chief in 2007. He left the force but returned as assistant chief in July 2009 when Evans was hired.
Assistant Chief Chester Logan, who had assumed Godbee’s responsibilities during the brief suspension, will serve as interim chief while the city conducts a national search for a successor. Logan, an officer for 38 years, said he likely will apply for the permanent job.
— Associated Press