The Detroit Police Department has struggled to meet the demands of court-appointed consultants hired in 2003 to transform the department, which was under scrutiny for civil rights violations, years of questionable civilian shootings, mistreatment of prisoners in decrepit lockups, and millions of dollars in lawsuit payouts, reports the Detroit Free Press. The department has curbed some abuses. Homicide detectives appear to have ended the practice of dragnet arrests — rounding up large groups of people near homicide scenes and bringing them in for questioning. The number of suspects dying in police holding cells has plummeted.
Court-appointed monitor Sheryl Robinson Wood and Kroll, the New York-based consulting firm selected to help oversee Detroit’s compliance, have faced continued resistance from police. The department has yet to build a $30-million central prisoner lockup. Detroit residents are still paying millions of dollars in damages because of police misconduct. A promised computer system to identify problem cops remains incomplete. As of July, police had completed 54 of the 177 changes authorities had promised to implement by next year. In September, U.S. District Judge Julian Cook Jr. reluctantly agreed to extend the deadlines to 2011. The federal came after a Free Press series in 2000 showing that Detroit police were killing residents at a rate higher than any other big-city police force, and that the department cleared officers in questionable civilian shootings. After articles about illegal dragnet arrests in murder cases and prisoner deaths, then-Mayor Dennis Archer called the Justice Department.