Vote now for Best of Detroit 2021

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Don't blame DPD for failing to provide shooting data — blame Michigan's FOIA laws

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 1:05 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY FLICKR USER SEAN DAVIS (CREATIVE COMMONS)

On Sunday, Vice News issued a report of a nine-month investigation that looked at fatal and nonfatal police shootings in the 50 largest police departments in the United States from 2010 through 2016.

Noticeably absent from the findings: any data from the Detroit Police Department. When Vice mapped the shooting rate data from the biggest cities, they had just an empty gray box for Detroit indicating "unknown."



That's because according to Vice, "The Detroit Police Department said it would take up to 3,120 business days and cost at least $77,532 to retrieve records that other departments made available online for free."

DPD did not return multiple calls and emails from Metro Times for comment made this week. But as Sarah Cwiek from Michigan Radio points out in a new piece today, don't blame DPD; blame FOIA, or the Freedom of Information Act.

"Each state has its own FOIA laws, and Michigan’s is notably awful," Cwiek writes.

By Michigan law, a public agency is given five days to respond to a FOIA request. And that's just to respond to the request: they can then use a ten-day extension to either grant or deny the request. As for actually granting the request, it can take longer — way, way longer.

As Cwiek notes, Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote in an opinion this month that agencies are only required to be guided by a "best efforts estimate" and that the law "does not impose a specific time by which a public body must fulfill a request for public records that it has granted."

So in other words, we're left to assume that DPD is giving its "best efforts estimate" when it says it would take 12 years and tens of thousands of dollars to provide information they are already tracking and that every other police force in the country can provide.

In other words: Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 13, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation