Sandra Hines of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality at the Malcolm X Forum held on May 19, 2007. Hines is a candidate for the Detroit Board of Education in the 5th District. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe).
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More time given for changes in use of force, other issues
September 22, 2007
BY DAVID ASHENFELTER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
A federal judge reluctantly agreed Friday to give the troubled Detroit Police Department four more years to comply with court-ordered changes.
U.S. District Judge Julian Cook said he was disappointed that the department hadn't made more progress in meeting the goals laid out in two Consent Decrees signed in 2003 to revamp the department's use of force and the way it handles prisoners and witnesses.
Cook, saying it was clear the city couldn't meet the current target dates, set a July 2011 deadline for both agreements, as the city had requested.
The agreement on the use of force was set to expire in July 2008, and the confinement decree, already extended once, expired in July.
City attorney John Quinn said the Police Department has made steady progress on the decrees, and that a lot of the hard work doesn't get reflected in quarterly reports because the department doesn't receive credit for partial compliance.
"I attribute all of this to a profound change in the institutional culture of the Detroit Police Department," Quinn told the judge. "Come hell or high water, it's going to be done by then," he said of the new July 2011 deadline.
In 2000, a Free Press series reported officers were killing citizens at a greater rate than at any other major city, and that departmental investigations seemed geared toward protecting the officers, rather than uncovering the truth. It also found that homicide detectives were using illegal dragnets to squeeze witnesses for information.
The series prompted a 2 1/2 -year federal investigation that led to the city signing the reform agreements with the Department of Justice. Kroll International, a risk-management company, was hired to oversee the changes.
Police have complied with 54 of the 177 points of the two agreements.
Quinn told Cook during the hearing that police officials have been meeting every week with the Justice Department to find ways to accomplish reforms.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Levy asked Cook to get more involved in the process to put pressure on the city to comply. Cook said he would consider her request.
Levy also told Cook that his court-appointed monitor, Sheryl Robinson Wood, needs to attend the weekly meetings with the Justice Department. Cook said he would consider both requests.
Cook ordered the city to continue paying Kroll $141,729 a month for monitoring. He said a federal magistrate would review the city's request to renegotiate the fee.
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Detroit News Article on Extension of Consent Decree
DETROIT -- A federal judge on Friday extended until 2011 the time the Detroit Police Department has to comply with two court orders related to use of force and prisoner confinement.
U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. also ordered the department to continue paying federal monitor fees of about $142,000 a month, at least for now.
The Police Department had recently withheld payment, complaining the fees had increased and were too high for the cash-strapped city.
Sheryl Robinson Wood, who works for the New York City-based consulting company Kroll Inc. and was appointed to oversee the reforms as a federal monitor, denied she had hiked her fees.
Rather, the city is now required to pay more each month because Robinson Wood has had to monitor one of the two court orders much longer than initially expected, U.S. Justice Department officials said in court filings.
On Friday, Cook extended both orders to July 2011. Justice Department officials did not oppose giving the police extra time but said they want a clear compliance plan for the reforms the department agreed to in 2003 to head off federal lawsuits.
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