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Detroit Police Department to cooperate with UM Innocence Clinic

Hands gripping jail cell bars
Detroit Police Department pledges cooperation with UM Innocence Clinic.

The Detroit Police Department will cooperate with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, helping find evidence for the clinic  to investigate possible cases of wrongful conviction.

The agreement was the result of a meeting between Police Chief James Craig and Innocence Clinic staff. 

Craig asked for the meeting after reading about one of the clinic's cases in the newspaper.  That particular case may involve evidence that was falsified by police.

"I'm passionate about protecting victims of crime," says Craig.  "I'm equally passionate about those individuals who have been incarcerated for a serious crime like murder, and through efforts of the Innocence Clinic determine that they were wrongfully prosecuted."

Craig says he believes the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will be open to taking another look at cases if there's clear evidence someone did not commit the crime.

"If someone comes to me and says, 'You know, Chief, you have the wrong person in custody and here's why', I'm obligated to address that issue, not look the other way," says Craig.

Innocence Clinic co-founder David Moran says nationally, such an agreement between a police department and an innocence project is not unprecedented, but it's a welcome departure from the days when he had to fight the department to see evidence.

"We've had in the past -- when the clinic opened -- we had great difficulty getting evidence out of the Detroit Police Department, " says Moran.  "And unfortunately we had to file lawsuits under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act law.  And so this is just a great development.  We greatly appreciate the Chief saying, 'We don't need to do that, we'll help you find the evidence you're looking for.'"

Moran says he's been given a liaison within the Police Department who will help track down old evidence.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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