Monday, June 1, 2015

Detroit police settlements since 2004 cost city $70 million

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 11:23 AM

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WXYZ Channel 7's investigative unit delivered a whopper of a story last week that showed, since 2008, Detroit has paid at least $27 million to settle lawsuits over police misconduct

And it's likely the city has paid more. From WXYZ: 

But the disparity is even bigger than that. In researching this story, 7 Action News came across several large lawsuit settlements that city officials never disclosed. A city attorney later admitted they should have.

In fact, attorney Dan Romano says at least a half-dozen payouts from cases he filed weren't listed in the records turned over by the city.

"This is not accurate at all," Romano said as he leafed through the city's list of settlements.

Coincidentally, we happened to be conducting research for a similar story. We requested records on police settlements under the Freedom of Information Act dating back to 2004. It should come as no surprise the $27 million figure is dwarfed by what we uncovered.

According to those records, the city of Detroit has paid out nearly $70 million to settle cases related to police misconduct since 2004, of which 13 payments were over $1 million. For some context, the city's bankruptcy restructuring plan called for spending about $75 million to hire an additional 250 civilian personnel for the Detroit Police Department to allow the city to redeploy uniformed officers to other functions. 

In response to WXYZ's story, Melvin Butch Hollowell, the city's top attorney, issued a statement that highlighted reductions in fatal shootings and citizens complaints since the 1990s. 

"We are incredibly proud of the improvements that have been made by the Detroit Police Department to become a model of constitutional policing in America," Hollowell said. "As he ruled to dissolve the federal consent decrees that were over DPD for 11 years, Judge Avern Cohen praised DPD for its efforts to improve its policies and practices. He specifically cited the sophisticated early warning systems the city implemented to flag potentially problematic behavior among officers and to have it immediately addressed." 

Hollowell said complaints against DPD cops have been reduced by 40 percent since the feds stepped in. 


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