Officer who started Kilpatrick investigation retires

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A longtime Detroit police official who started the internal police investigation into wrongdoing by former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his bodyguards announced his retirement Thursday.

Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt made the announcement at Thursday’s COMPSTAT meeting, a weekly gathering of police officials to discuss crime trends. Dolunt is a 31-year veteran who led several commands, most recently the Eastern District, before he was named assistant chief when James Craig became chief in July 2013.

“It’s been a good run,” Dolunt told The News Thursday. “It was an honor to work here. I can’t say enough about the chief, who gave me an opportunity when no one else would.”

Dolunt was the focus of criticism recently because of his comments during a Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting last year, when he said anyone on the department who had racial or sexual prejudices needed to “get over it.” Dolunt said Thursday some media outlets mischaracterized his comments to make it appear he was a racist.

“Sometimes people say things in the press about some of my comments,” Dolunt said. “People started to question my leadership over statements I’ve made. I had one former DPD officer who said I should be fired. Another police commissioner said the same thing. I don’t like dealing with wannabes. It affects my family, and my family has been through hell. When that happens, it’s time to step back and say maybe it’s time to go.

“But I love this department. I love this city. It’s really been a great run.”

Dolunt was an Internal Affairs official during the Kilpatrick administration. During that time, he received a memo from an officer laying out abuses by Kilpatrick, his family, and members of the mayor’s Executive Protection Unit, he said.

“I got the memo that started the whole thing,” Dolunt said. “There were a few memos, actually; memos about the (long rumored but never proven) Manoogian Mansion party; department vehicles being improperly used (by Kilpatrick’s bodyguards and relatives); and a few other things.

The investigation kicked off a series of events that eventually led to Kilpatrick’s resignation. The former mayor was convicted of using his position as mayor of Detroit and state House representative to execute a wide-ranging racketeering conspiracy involving extortion, bribery and fraud. He is serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison.

“Investigating the mayor didn’t exactly help my career,” Dolunt told The News Thursday. “I was transferred 12 times in two years.”

Second Deputy Chief Michael Woody said Dolunt is well-respected in the ranks. “For 31 years he served this department, at every command level you can think of,” he said. “He’s a great leader and an honorable man.”

Dolunt, an avid Detroit Tigers fan, kept a collection of baseball memorabilia at his desk. He also coaches softball at a suburban high school.

He often would openly express his disgust when talking to the media about violence against citizens, especially children.

Dolunt was commander of the Eastern District when five of his officers were hurt, and Officer Brian Huff killed, while investigating a shooting in an abandoned duplex. He broke down and wept during a press conference after the shootings.

“He had a great career,” Detroit Police Officers Association president Mark Diaz said. “He’s been an icon in the law enforcement community, not just in Detroit but nationally. He’s been a true leader and a beacon of light for DPD officers throughout his career. And his hair is never out of place. I wish him a good retirement.”

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