Detroit Wants To Ease Police Consent Decrees; Feds Say No


The Detroit Police Department has asked a federal judge to ease the steps it must take to comply with four-year-old court orders aimed at reforming the department’s use of force and treatment of prisoners, the Detroit News reports. In general, the orders should require the department only to develop new policies, not implement them, the department argued. The motion drew swift criticism. “What is the sake of having a policy if you can’t make sure that policy translates into some kind of action?” asked Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, a citizens group that pushed for federal intervention to help curb police abuses. Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel called the department’s position cynical and “preposterous public policy.”

The department signed the consent decrees in 2003 to settle two federal lawsuits that accused the police of repeatedly violating the rights of suspects, prisoners, and witnesses. Rather than requiring the department to demonstrate compliance with new policies on subjects such as officers firing weapons, carrying unauthorized ammunition, and using chemical spray, the courts and a federal monitor should trust the department to do what it says it will do, the city said. U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy will oppose the motion. “The basis of the motion really surprises me,” Murphy said. “To think that a consent decree would be entered which requires policies to be devised and not have them implemented is really counterintuitive.”


Comments are closed.