Detroit street dedicated to ex-top cop Ike McKinnon
Detroit — Former city police chief and retired deputy mayor Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon was honored Tuesday with part of a downtown city street renamed after him.
McKinnon attended an 11 a.m. ceremony near the former Detroit Police Department headquarters at 1300 Beaubien St., where a portion of the roadway has been given the secondary name “Isaiah ‘Ike’ McKinnon Avenue.’”
He was joined by his wife and family, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Brenda Jones, University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi and others.
“This day is certainly a special day for me,” said McKinnon, who is a professor of education at UDM. “I thank you all for coming here to celebrate it with me.”
McKinnon’s granddaughter, Zoe McKinnon, 8, flew in with her family from California to speak about her grandfather during the ceremony.
Standing on a plastic crate at a podium, she said: “I love my grandpa. He’s nice and smells like mints,” which drew a round of laughter from the crowd.
“He’s always meant so much to me,” she said. “He’s changed and saved so many people’s lives. He’s made so many marks on the world and today he’s made another. Congratulations, Grampy!”
Duggan praised McKinnon for his service to the city as police chief.
“He rose through the ranks to become the police chief in this building,” Duggan said. “There could be no better way to commemorate 50 years of public service than for this street to be forever known as “Isaiah ‘Ike’ McKinnon Avenue.’”
A special blue street sign with McKinnon’s name was unveiled at the intersection of Beaubien and Macomb streets, kitty corner from the old police headquarters. The Albert Kahn-designed building served as the department’s HQ from 1923 to 2013.
Jones, who led the effort to give the street its second name in honor of McKinnon, also praised the former police chief.
“Ike is one who truly loves his city, that carries the spirit of Detroit around with him every day,” she said.
McKinnon, 74, joined Detroit’s police department in 1965. He retired from the force in 1984 as an inspector to start his own security company. Clients included UDM and the former Renaissance Center.
From 1993-98, McKinnon rejoined the Detroit Police Department to serve as chief of police. During his tenure, he led the department through internal investigations and major reforms before retiring to join UDM’s faculty.
McKinnon holds a doctorate of philosophy in administration and higher education from Michigan State University. He also attended the FBI Academy and the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection School.
He recently shared his experiences with the racial tensions in the police department back when he joined in 1965 and the near-death experiences he faced during the 1967 uprising.
McKinnon reminisced about becoming a police officer and working for then-Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh as part of his security detail.
“One Saturday evening, I was with Mayor Cavanagh and he said to me ‘Ike, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?’” he said. “I said I’d like to retire as a sergeant. He said, ‘Ike, you could become police chief for the city of Detroit some day.’ I thought this man is crazy.”
Cavanagh advised McKinnon to attend college, which he did.
“In 1993, I received a call from a man named Dennis Archer,” McKinnon said. “Of course after Dennis was elected mayor, he said to me ‘Ike, I want you to be my police chief.’ Cavanagh foresaw it, but I didn’t believe it.”