Jeff Montgomery, the executive director of the Triangle Foundation, a leading gay and lesbian advocacy group, is feeling hoodwinked. In February, Montgomery and others met with Detroit Police Sixth Precinct Sgt. Danny Marshall, who heads special operations and trains undercover cops to patrol the city’s parks. During a briefing about a planned sting operation aimed at the patrons of prostitutes, says Montgomery, Marshall offered assurances that no one would be ticketed unless money was exchanged or mentioned.

“What’s happened is exactly what we feared,” says Montgomery. Within two weeks, as many as a dozen men complained to the Triangle Foundation that cops ticketed them in Rouge Park and impounded their cars for talking about sex, though money was not mentioned or exchanged, he says. The complaints were very similar. “Someone engages them in conversation and says, ‘What are you into? Do you like oral sex? Well, follow me to my house.’ They get in the car and the guy is arrested,” asserts Montgomery.

But Marshall told News Hits that his officers have been trained not to make the first move. “They wait to be approached themselves,” he says.

“We don’t arrest anyone because they’re gay,” Marshall said. “I’m black, and I don’t want to be targeted, so I would not violate someone’s rights because I don’t want mine violated.”

Attorney Rudy Serra, who also met with Marshall — and represents about five of the men ticketed — says that the real mission is to rake in money for the city. Serra says his clients had to pay $900 each to retrieve impounded cars — whether or not they are found guilty.

In March, the Sixth Precinct issued 262 citations and impounded 203 vehicles; many of the tickets issued have been for indecent exposure, said Marshall.

Since January, the department has raised more than $1.3 million in impound fees, according to the Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly.

Were these allegations not so serious, News Hits would be tempted to make a tasteless comment about people getting screwed one way or another, but we’ll refrain from going there.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]