Politics & Government
5:18 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

As Detroit brings in outside police, civil rights leaders worry about oversight

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing cut the city's police department budget by nearly 20 percent earlier this summer, which will mean the loss of an estimated 380 positions, of about 2,600 officers, through attrition and early retirement, reports the Detroit News.

Michigan State Police troopers and Wayne County Sheriff's deputies have come to the city to help patrol traffic and prevent violent crime.

This, the News reports, is making some civil rights leaders nervous about the relationship between police who are new to serving in the city, and residents who may not trust the police.  

From the Detroit News:

The Rev. Malik Shabazz said he's concerned about troopers and deputies patrolling Detroit who are unfamiliar with the city. Shabazz was among the civil rights leaders who were called in to quell a disturbance that flared on Detroit's east side in May 2010, after a state trooper fatally shot a man following a car chase.

The shooting happened five days after a Detroit police officer killed 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones during a May 16 raid — and six blocks from the house on Lillibridge where the raid occurred. Residents became upset because they felt troopers were being disrespectful by laughing while the man lay dead.

"They weren't sensitive to what the situation was in Detroit at the time," Shabazz said. "That's what I'm afraid of: If we have more state troopers coming to Detroit, they're not going to understand the dynamics of this community."

State Police Capt. Monica Yesh told the News the outside reinforcements who patrol the inner city are given additional training for this reason:

"We've also reached out to the faith-based community," said Yesh, commander of the 2nd District, which covers southeast Michigan. "We want to get the message out that we're not coming there for a ticket-writing campaign — we're here to help reduce violent crime."

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom