Detroit — Police officials are expected Tuesday to discuss the stop-and-frisk policing method and other issues concerning the federal consent decrees during a Command Accountability Meeting.
Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, head of the Bratton Group, and the Manhattan Institute, which were brought in as consultants in July to help shape Detroit Police policy, are pioneers of the stop-and-frisk policing method.
Critics say the practice leads to racial profiling, while advocates contend police can’t target criminals in mostly-minority neighborhoods without arresting minorities.
The department doesn’t have an official stop-and-frisk policy, Assistant Police Chief James White said.
“We’re not telling our officers to go out and stop and frisk citizens,” said White, who has spearheaded the department’s efforts to comply with the consent decrees, which were entered into with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003 after allegations surfaced alleging police brutality and deplorable conditions of confinement. “It’s just a tool in our toolbox.”
Reginald Crawford, a Detroit police commissioner, said racial profiling can take place in a city with a police force and citizenry that’s predominantly black.
“There’s this notion that Detroit is 80 percent black, so ‘driving while black’ can’t occur,” said Crawford, an officer for 37 years. “Yes, it can. We’re talking about a system. You can’t just stop people because of their race; you stop them because of something they did.”
White insisted Detroit officers are trained to practice “constitutional policing.”
“Everything we do, we do it with the Constitution in mind,” said White, who formerly headed the police department’s Civil Rights Integrity Bureau. “We’re not going to engage in activities that violate the rights of citizens.”
Detroit Police Chief James Craig vowed in his Plan of Action, released earlier this month, that the department would achieve full compliance with the consent decrees this year.
The part of the decree that deals with conditions of confinement has been met and closed out, and the department is 88 percent compliant with the use-of-force provision, White said. He added that the city still spends about $88,000 monthly to pay for federal monitor Robert Warsaw and his staff.
The city filed a motion last month in federal court asking to suspend the federal oversight. The motion was denied.
“The department has changed drastically since 2003,” White said. “Now, we’re down to how reports are being written, as opposed to the problems that were in the organization.”