Consent Decree: Detroit, MI

After 13 years of being watched by the federal government, scrutinized over how it handles arrests and lockups, the Detroit Police Department is officially free from court and department of justice oversight. In 2003, the city entered into two consent decrees with the Justice Department after police were accused of unconstitutional conduct, including excessive use of force and illegal detentions. Assistant Police Chief James White said those days are over, and what’s emerged after more than a decade of oversight is a “much more organized, constitutional police department.” According to court documents, by 2014, serious uses of force  had “drastically declined” and the department had “completely ended” the practice of arresting and detaining witnesses without a warrant, records show. Other changes that occurred while under federal oversight:

• The department had 17 fatal shootings over five years, compared with 47 in the five years before the Justice Department’s investigation began.

• The Detroit Police Department averages fewer than 28 shootings per year, compared with 69 per year before the investigation.

• The department has established an audit team, staffed with sworn and civilian auditors “to conduct department-wide audits to track the performance of all aspects of the (department).”

• The department also established the Inspection Unit, compliance liaison officers and the Force Investigation Section “to perform intensive inspections of police practices from the precinct to the command levels.”

Cost. Detroit paid a federal monitor $87,825 a month to make sure the police department was making improvements. In 2014, the city and Justice Department entered into an 18-month transition agreement. Under that agreement, the federal government would review and evaluate the department’s internal audits, conduct on-site visits and provide “comments and technical assistance where needed, to ensure that (the department’s) reform efforts continue and are sustained.”

Full Article: Federal Oversight of Detroit Police Ends: