Detroit Police Failing To Reform, Monitor Reports


The Detroit Police Department has made little progress fulfilling promises to end abuses against witnesses, suspects, and citizens, the Detroit News reports. The Police Department still uses outdated detention cells, has failed to rewrite policies, and continues to detain people without probable cause, says a 114-page draft report prepared by an independent monitor and obtained by the newspaper.

The report suggests growing frustration with the city’s lack of progress in meeting the provisions of two consent decrees the city signed with U.S. Justice Department officials in June. “The monitor’s overriding concern is the inability of the [police department] to revise or develop effective policies that adhere to the requirements of the consent judgments,” said the report by Sheryl Robinson, a Washington-based federal monitor.

The report is a draft that may be revised before being submitted to U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., who he must decide what action to take based on the report. Short of holding the city in contempt, he may have few options. “What can you threaten Detroit with? How do you fine someone for not having enough money?” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. “It may be that the city is playing a game of chicken. They may be thinking ‘What more can they do to us?’ ”

The report is the latest milestone in a three-year effort to reform the Police Department, which began after then-Mayor Dennis Archer asked the Justice Department in 2000 to investigate problems. Last June, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and police officials signed the decrees to end a 30-month U.S. Justice Department investigation that found massive civil rights abuses. Those abuses included subjecting people to “excessive force, false arrests, illegal detentions and unconstitutional conditions of confinement.”


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