Detroit police board says consent decrees should stay

by , Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to keep consent decrees, a court-enforced tool used to overhaul problem-plagued police departments.

The commissioners, at a meeting Thursday night at New Greater Zion Hill Church in Detroit, said consent decrees have had a significant positive impact on Detroit’s police force. They passed a resolution saying Sessions should maintain the use of them for “protection of citizens and their civil rights.”

The commissioners said in 2003, the City of Detroit and its police department entered into two consent decrees with the U. S. Justice Department “to address systemic changes needed for law enforcement, including procedures for police training, the use of deadly force and the process for arrest and detention of suspects.”

“Today, the police department is better organized and provides better service to the community as a result of the reform process initiated and completed in 2016 by the consent decrees,” the resolution said.

Earlier this month, Sessions ordered a review of all Justice Department consent decrees with police departments.

The commissioners’ resolution said Sessions believes erroneously that federal oversight of police departments is usually unwarranted.

“His belief ignores facts and evidence that consent decrees do not target a few ‘bad actors,’ but rather departments with systemic and often long patterns of civil rights and other constitutional abuses or ingrained problems that undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement, the strength of police confidence and community relations, and the achievement of justice,” the resolution said.

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners has supervisory authority and oversight over the police department.

Contact Ann Zaniewski: 313-222-6594 or Follow her on Twitter @AnnZaniewski. 

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