Report: Unclear commissioner flashed badge to campaign

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit – — The city’s auditor general has determined there’s not enough evidence a police commissioner committed wrongdoing after it was alleged he used his police badge to enter an apartment building and distribute campaign literature.

However, the report suggested the Board of Police Commissioners adopt a policy outlining how members may use their gold badges, which are nearly identical to those issued to high-ranking police officials.

“While this is an appropriate policy for all city departments, it has particular importance for BOPC members because the credentials they receive can more easily be mistaken for actual law enforcement identification,” the report said.

The commissioner, Willie Burton, declined to comment on the findings other than to say, “The report speaks for itself.”

In June, the attorney for the police board forwarded to the auditor general a complaint from a “private citizen” who suspected Burton had improperly used his badge to gain entry into the Washington Boulevard Apartments at 234 State Street, a senior citizen facility.

“On June 8th Commissioner Burton called complainant and asked permission to deliver his own flyers to the building,” the report said. “Complainant told Commissioner Burton he was not available to receive the flyers, nor let him into the building. However, on June 9, 2014, he discovered that flyers announcing a dinner and a movie with (Wayne County Executive) Robert Ficano were posted throughout the building and under tenants’ apartment doors.”

But the report, released last month, added: “Inexplicably, (Burton) refused to answer direct questions about whether he entered the Washington Blvd. Apartments to deliver campaign materials. However, the OIG reviewed video footage from June 8, 2014, the same day on which the complainant believes the flyers to have been delivered.

“The video shows a man who appears to be Commissioner Burton entering the Washington Blvd. Apartments at approximately 8:13 p.m. The person entered the front door of the building carrying a white plastic bag, pressed a buzzer on the intercom system, and proceeded through the second door once it was unlocked.

“A security guard stopped the man. He then removed a wallet from his back pocket and showed the contents to the security guard, who allowed him to proceed after seeing the contents of the wallet.”

The report said investigators were unable to interview the guard because he works for a firm no longer used by the building.

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