Freep Reporters Find System Protects Bad Cops in Michigan

“There’s virtually no way to determine how many officers like this are on the street right now… Nobody keeps track.”

Michigan State Police car parked on the grass

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

When we see violence involving police, we long for justice. When police are targeted at the receiving end of violent encounters, we hope the attackers are punished to the full extent of the law.

Because of the nature of policing, it is important that officers are held accountable when they are the ones inflicting unnecessary violence.

What is happening — if anything — to make sure bad officers are kept off the street?

According to a new investigative report by the Detroit Free Press, it turns out the system in Michigan actually works to keep bad police officers on the streets.

Free Press staff writers Jim Schaefer and Gina Kaufman speak with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about the recently published report and the reality of policing in Metro Detroit. 

According to Schaefer, police departments weren’t forthcoming with information regarding police officers that had been suspended or fired. 

“You cannot just walk into a police station and say, ‘Give me all the disciplinary records you have on police officers,'” he says. “The city of Detroit wouldn’t even give us names of any fired police officers until we really pressed them on it.” 

It is also difficult to quantify bad policing because “there’s virtually no way to determine how many officers like this are on the street right now,” says Kaufman. “Nobody keeps track.” 

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.