Police reform funds allocated to five Metro Detroit communities

George Hunter
The Detroit News

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced Tuesday it granted $200,000 to police departments and other organizations in five Metro Detroit communities to develop programs aimed at police reform.

Under the foundation's Community Policing Innovations Initiative, the funds will be used "to provide support for local public safety departments to work with their communities to address issues in police practices, systems and services," a foundation press release said.

Selected to share the funds were the Canton Township Police Department and its Canton Coalition for Inclusive Communities; the Detroit Police Department; East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority and Black Legacy Advancement Coalition; Inkster Police Department; and Beloved Community Initiative and First AME Church of Farmington Hills.

The initiative, which is in its pilot phase, will focus on "police use of force, officer accountability, disparate enforcement and treatment, re-imagining public safety, and truth & reconciliation," the foundation's release said.

Focus on police reform has ramped up in the past year. After former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed a handcuffed George Floyd, kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, there have been demands for police to revamp their de-escalation tactics. 

Under the Community Policing Innovations Initiative, community groups will work with police departments "to develop community-driven, substantive, and pragmatic changes in the way that policing and public safety services are provided," the release said.

Detroit Police Commissioner Willie Burton said it's important for community members to have a voice in how their neighborhoods are patrolled.

"It's always good to bring the community into these discussions," Burton said. "The goal is to get the police and community working together, to come up with solutions, and that's what this program is looking to do."

The Community Policing Innovations Initiative was launched this year to effect police reform in southeast Michigan. The initiative is supported by funds from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Ballmer Group and Oakland County.

"A strong relationship and trust between public law enforcement and the communities they serve is critical,” said the Initiative's chair, Barbara McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“The communities and police departments in this pilot phase were selected because of their eagerness and commitment to embrace change and reform efforts," McQuade said.

The foundation is accepting applications for the second round of funds for the Community Policing Innovations Initiative. For more information, visit https://cfsem.org/initiative/innovative-policing/.


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN