Halfway into a five-year federal program to overhaul the Detroit Police Department, the department is nowhere near compliance with court-ordered changes to protect the civil rights of prisoners and reform its training and procedures, reports the Detroit News. The department couldn’t even provide an accurate list of active duty police officers and has properly completed one of 52 required audits, says an independent monitor appointed to oversee the changes. Monitor Sheryl Robinson Wood found that the city repeatedly has missed court-ordered deadlines for improvements. The city now has until Jan. 25 to explain to a judge how and when it will meet missed deadlines.
In June 2003, the Justice Department and the city settled two lawsuits that accused the city of repeatedly violating the constitutional rights of suspects, prisoners and witnesses. Commander Jamie Fields, who oversees the department’s office of civil rights, acknowledges there are areas that need improvement. He cites successes, including no deaths in custody in three years and a 40 percent reduction in foot chases since the department revised the policy. Of 80 requirements under the twin agreements that govern use of force and holding cells, the police have complied with just eight. Police spokesman James Tate says numbers are misleading because compliance isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition.