Detroit police union chief to keep salary amid probe

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz will continue to be paid while serving a suspension after being charged last week with reckless driving and malicious destruction of property at an Oakland County school.

Because Diaz was charged with a felony, Detroit Police Chief James Craig recommended he be suspended without pay. But the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners Thursday voted in favor of Diaz keeping his salary amid parallel Michigan State Police and Detroit police investigations into the allegations.

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office alleged Diaz on Dec. 20 caused damage at the Holly Academy School in Holly. The union president was charged with one count of malicious destruction of a building, with damages between $1,000 and $20,000 and one count of reckless driving.

Prosecutors did not provide details about the alleged crime, although board chairman Willie Bell told The Detroit News Thursday Diaz drove onto a snowy field and unknowingly caused damage to some underground pipes.

“He’s accused of driving over an unpaved area that was on school property,” Bell said. “Unbeknownst to him, he got stuck and caused some underground damage trying to get out. He offered to make restitution to the school. He didn’t run from his responsibility. I don’t know why they didn’t accept his offer for restitution.”

However, Thursday’s vote, which was conducted in a private session, rankled some commissioners.

“I’m highly upset,” said Reggie Crawford, who voted to uphold Craig’s recommendation to suspend Diaz without pay. “He should be treated like every other officer in the history of this department. His being president of the union should have nothing to do with it.”

After the board’s vote, Diaz said: “I’m just looking forward to having this issue adjudicated as quickly as possible, and I’ll continue to cooperate with the process.”

Diaz also is a police and fire Pension Board trustee.

“I’m duty-bound by my oath of office to continue to function as president of the (union), including my position as pension board trustee,” he said.

Diaz is due back in court Friday and March 10.

Also Thursday, the board voted unanimously to suspend Detroit Police Officer Miguel Martinez without pay. Martinez, a 29-year police veteran, was charged last month in federal court with allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography.

According to a nine-page complaint, an undercover sheriff’s deputy in Reno, Nevada, discovered several videos depicting prepubescent children engaged in sexual activity, some of them with adult men. The videos had been downloaded from a file-sharing program to an IP address allegedly belonging to Martinez.

Agents seized computers and other items Tuesday from Martinez’s home on Ridge View Drive in Trenton, the complaint said.

Martinez is suspected to have downloaded “at least 100 files of investigative interest to child pornography investigations,” according to the complaint.

“That decision to suspend (Martinez) without pay was an easy one,” Bell said Thursday.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN