Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners will review a report detailing systemic corruption among Detroit’s top drug enforcement unit. That’s after WDET revealed the 210-page document detailing the investigation of the Major Violators Unit.
The report is the product of the two-year Operation Clean Sweep investigation of the unit. It details significant allegations of police misconduct like falsified arrest records and claims from informants that officers were stealing money and drugs from them. Investigators found the Major Violators Unit used a fund for paid informants like “an open checkbook” and failed to account for more than a million dollars of cash paid out over the course of a decade. They describe an endless cycle of false arrests where hundreds of alleged drug dealers were released back into Detroit’s neighborhoods.
The report was delivered to the police commission last year. But many say they never read it.
“This report is not covering anything new. While the board could have said more directly about the changes, we want to make sure the goal is not to attribute reforms to one bad officer.” — Rev. Jim Holley, chair of the Board of Police Commissioners
“I couldn’t discuss it because I didn’t really know anything about it, although apparently the report was generated in November 2021,” says Police Commissioner Linda Bernard. She had a thick print-out of the report, saying it was the first time she ever held it in hand.
“I need someone to help me with this because it’s quite a bit of material.”
Police Commission Chair Rev. Jim Holley says the board is discussing with the city’s law department on how to hold a public meeting while litigation remains pending.
Holley says the board has already discussed policy guidance stemming from Operation Clean Sweep, like organizational rotations for officers and police leadership to avoid an “unhealthy subculture.”
“This report is not covering anything new,” says Holley. “While the board could have said more directly about the changes, we want to make sure the goal is not to attribute reforms to one bad officer.”
A dozen officers reportedly resigned and retired from the Detroit Police Department following the investigation. The report unveiled three other officers have “serious misconduct allegations” against them and did not leave.
No officers have been charged over its findings of perjury, forgery and fraud.
Other commissioners have questions for former Detroit police chief James Craig, who created the unit in 2014 and saw to its investigation.
“Why wasn’t there an audit done? Why weren’t these issues figured out when he became chief in 2013?” asks Police Commissioner Ricardo Moore. “Because this is not the first stint of issues the Detroit Police Department has had with narcotics.”