Colleagues mourn loss of police Commissioner Sanders
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Derrick Sanders served on the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority board. An earlier version misidentified the board on which he served.
Detroit — Friends and colleagues of Detroit police Commissioner Derrick B. Sanders were mourning him over the weekend.
The official cause of death, which occurred Saturday, has not been determined but is believed to be from natural causes, said the board chairwoman.
“The Board of Police Commissioners is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our colleague Derrick Sanders, and we extend our condolences to his family, the Operating Engineers 324 labor union, and his many, many friends,” said Lisa Carter.
“Commissioner Sanders brought a unique perspective to his role and duties as a board member and as chair of the budget subcommittee,” she said. “To him, the numbers on a spreadsheet were people and equipment needed to provide our city with the best level of public safety.
“Our officers and residents knew him because he went to every precinct and rode along on patrols to personally see the cars, the body-worn cameras, and all the other equipment and tools; it was part of his way of making sure police officers had what they needed to do their jobs.”
Carter said Sanders, 59, also brought “many sharp, common sense contributions to public service and to civilian oversight in Detroit.”
“He was truly a dedicated, hard-working person,” she said. “We will miss his smile, his style and his ability to always put people first.”
Sanders was known for visiting precincts and pushing to ensure city officers had functioning fleet cars, member Eva Garza Dewaelsche said. “He was really very committed and sincere and serious.”
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, with 10 members, has authority and oversight over the Detroit Police Department. Detroiters elect seven members by district and the mayor appoints three at-large members. Sanders was appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan in December 2015. All commissioners serve without pay.
In a statement Monday, Duggan said Sanders’ death left him “deeply saddened.”
“I was honored to consider Derrick a friend and will miss him,” he said. “His passing is a great loss to our community.”
According to the board’s website, Sanders held positions on the city of Detroit Water Board and the Detroit Public Schools Oversight Committee. He had been a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 since 1993 and was serving as a business representative and trustee for the Local.
“Derrick was a leader, a friend, and a tireless supporter and advocate for labor and OE324,” the group said in a statement. “He had a heartfelt belief in the revitalization of Detroit, and the power of our industry to create good, safe careers to improve communities and lives. He will be greatly missed.”
Sanders was a lifelong resident of Detroit and also served on the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority board and the Wayne County Joint Authority Board.
Visitation is scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Friday at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 West McNichols, Detroit. A funeral takes place there at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed.