Detroit Police Department Then and Now

Former Detroit Police Commission Member and Former Crime Reporter Talk Detroit Then and Now

Laquan McDonald’s shooting death by a Chicago police officer has created enough of a stir that the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to look deeply at the Chicago Police Department. That’s a relationship with the federal government we know well here in Detroit. In 2003 an agreement was reached to add a federal monitor to oversee the Detroit Police Department. The monitoring ended last year. Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with former Police Commission member Rev. Jerome Warfield, and former Detroit Free Press crime reporter Joe Swickard. How has Detroit’s police department changed? Have things gotten better here over the past decade? Here a few highlights from their conversation.


  • Accountability: Swickard states that holding the police accountable for their actions is important for justice. “It’s a [job] with enormous responsibility and one that has to be carried out fairly, and when good people mess up they still have to be held to account,” Swickard says.
  • Advisory Board: One Detroit Today listener thinks that we should have a citizen’s advisory board for the police. “What’s important is to have a strong citizen arm with some teeth to it that’s able to literally represent the citizens of the city in a number of different ways,” the caller says.
  • Culture: Henderson believes that what might be necessary is a reforming of police interaction. “What may be needed is a culture change around the question of how police interact with the people they’re supposed to be ‘protecting and serving,” Henderson says.

To hear more of their conversation, click the link above.