Police continue to investigate Detroit fire union head over social media posts
Detroit — Police continue to investigate allegations that the city's fire union president exposed sensitive information about homicide witnesses on social media after prosecutors Wednesday returned a warrant request for more work.
Detroit police launched a criminal investigation earlier this month into allegations that Detroit Fire Fighter Association President Mike Nevin outed homicide witnesses on Facebook, a move Detroit Police Chief James Craig has said "undermined" the investigation and potentially put witnesses in harm's way.
The prosecutor's office confirmed that it had received the warrant request on Tuesday but returned it late Wednesday for further investigation.
“It’s not unusual for prosecutors to return warrants for more investigation. This does not mean they’re denying the warrant; they’re just saying more work needs to be done," Craig told The Detroit News. "We’re waiting to meet with them now to determine specifically want they want, and we’ll take care of it. Sometimes they’ll want forensic evidence or more additional work in a particular area. This happens all the time.”
Nevin's attorney, Mike Rataj, said Thursday "there is no basis for criminal charges against Nevin." He declined further comment.
Rataj previously has argued that city officials are "trying to silence" Nevin for exercising his "First Amendment right to speak out on behalf of his members."
Nevin sent a media a package, which he also reportedly posted on Facebook, that included audio files of police dispatches, and a police report of a shooting that occurred Nov. 23 at Junction and Warren on Detroit’s west side. The report included the first name of a woman who told police about the shooting, along with her phone number and address.
"The Detroit Fire Fighters Association will continue to express professional factual concern publicly over Detroit Police / Fire and EMS mismanagement, manipulation and flat-out misrepresenting public safety response to the public," Nevin said in the news release.
Craig hasn't specified what charges he's seeking against Nevin. But has said that his investigators have had several conversations with assistant Wayne County prosecutors and spoke with Prosecutor Kym Worthy about the case.
Nevin has been waging a bitter battle with the Fire Department in recent months over the implementation of a controversial new response policy that has firefighters responding to some calls on a less emergent basis without lights and sirens.
The system, which Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and Mayor Mike Duggan have defended as "sound policy," has been the subject of a recent unfair labor charge.
Jones put the new system in place in August that classifies runs by two codes: one for emergent runs, which uses lights and sirens, and the other for non-emergent calls, which does not. The fire chief has said that disregarding traffic signals and speed limits with the activation of lights and sirens for every single run — even when it's not urgent — is unnecessarily dangerous.