91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Detroit Police Department falling short on transparency, one police commissioner says

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

One Detroit police commissioner says the police department isn’t being honest and transparent about a variety of issues.

Commissioner Ricardo Moore said the board has requested documents on a range of things from unedited officer body-worn camera videos, to case closure rates and domestic violence homicides, along with about a dozen other issues.

Moore said that after months of asking and even issuing subpoenas, the department and the city have failed to comply. He said many of the issues the board is asking about stem from citizen requests.

“So citizens are asking us, ‘What about this?’ And we go to the department and say, ‘Hey, what about this?’ And then they do a spin job. ‘Okay, we'll get back to you in a week or two.’ Then a week or two comes and we still don't have anything,” Moore said.

Moore said the board wants that information to increase public confidence in the police department.

“That's the purpose of those requests for documents in accordance with the city charter,” he said. “So it's not like we're just making up things of this nature. Citizens have requested these things, and we want to fulfill these citizens’ requests.”

In response, Detroit Police Chief James White told the board last week that the department will begin releasing body cam or other video footage of any police killings or shootings within 45 days.

However, White said, when it comes to sensitive cases, “There are things I simply cannot disclose, period.” He also denied Moore’s claims that the department is ducking transparency, saying that “What you’ve noticed we do in critical incidents, and particularly officer-involved shootings, is we rush to put information out.”

In a letter penned to the Detroit Free Press last week, Moore accused Detroit’s top lawyer, Conrad Mallett, of sitting on subpoenas the board had issued “on two dozen issues, from missing persons to facial recognition,” for six months.

In response, Mallett said "It does no good to get into an argument with someone only passingly familiar with the truth.” He went on to say that he had issued a “privileged and confidential memo regarding BOPC subpoena powers” in July 2023. Mallett declined to elaborate, citing the privileged nature of the memo, and also declined further comment.

In his letter to the Free Press, Moore said he was driven to share these issues in part due to personal experience. In 1984, Moore’s grandfather was brutally murdered in his Detroit home. Four years later, police called Moore’s mother to say they had arrested a suspect, only to later release that suspect due to a lack of evidence.

Moore said those events “re-traumatized” him and his family, and said he feels for other families whose loved ones’ killings remain unsolved.

“I haven't gone to any formal counseling to get any assistance and tough things out,” Moore said. “My meditation and my help comes from God and from helping other people. And that's how I get through.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.