Detroit Police Department

C/O MDOC

The Michigan State Police have wrapped up a nearly year-long investigation into who really killed four people in a Detroit home one September night in 2007.

Back then, police brought in a 14-year-old kid named Davontae Sanford. After hours of interrogation without a parent or a lawyer, he confessed and was later sent to prison.

But just weeks later, a professional hitman, Vincent Smothers, was arrested and confessed to those same killings, even leading police to the weapon he used. 

The Detroit Police Department has had a frequently troubled past, particularly in regard to the way it treated African-Americans. 

Bridge Magazine​'s Bill McGraw is one of the reporters working with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. His story in Bridge is an extensive look at Detroit's police department and its chief

Brian Widdis / Bridge

Bill McGraw reports for Bridge, a Michigan Radio partner in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The Black Lives Matter movement was peaking a year ago, when protesters took to the streets of Baltimore over the death of a black man in police custody. On the same day, an angry crowd gathered on Evergreen Road on Detroit’s west side.

The situation on Evergreen quickly grew tense. An agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was on a task force with Detroit police had shot and killed a 20-­year-old black Detroiter, Terrance Kellom, a parole absconder who was wanted for armed robbery.

“Huge crowd. We were surrounded,” Assistant Chief Steven Dolunt recalled in late March. “They were calling for the chief. I called him. I said, ‘You need to get here right away. Now.’’’

The chief of police is James Craig. The crowd knew him because in nearly three years at the top of the Detroit Police Department, he has become such a familiar figure on city streets and media outlets that some people, both friends and foes, call him “Hollywood.”

Craig’s style is low­-key and controlled, more Woodward Avenue than Sunset Strip, but he doesn’t mind the nickname. He says his visibility is part of a deliberate strategy to communicate with Detroiters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Police Department plans a program that will allow the public access to department data that includes complaints against officers and police runs to problem areas.

The Detroit News reports officers' names won't be made public, but the nature of complaints by precinct will be available.

Police Chief James Craig says: "If you want to build trust, you can't act like you're hiding something."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio


If you’re a police officer in the United Kingdom, chances are you don’t carry a gun.

In fact, you might go through your entire career and never fire a weapon, a stark contrast to police on this side of the Atlantic.

Michael Matthews is a police constable with the London Metropolitan Police and is now attached to Scotland Yard. He’s just spent time shadowing Detroit police officers, conducting research for a book Matthews is writing about the Detroit Police Department.

Longtime Detroit community and civil rights activist Ron Scott has died of cancer.

Scott headed the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.

He left a big mark on the city’s police department, with his decades of activism against police misconduct and for increased transparency.

He was instrumental in securing a U.S. Justice Department consent decree against the DPD in 2003, at a time when Detroit police led the nation in civilian shootings. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police officers should get a pay bump starting in 2016.

City officials announced Monday that officers will get  a 4% raise January 1.

It’s part of a deal that will extend the city’s three police unions’ contracts through 2020. That contract was negotiated and approved in 2014, during the city’s bankruptcy.

Police Chief James Craig says a pay boost is crucial to attracting and retaining officers, something the department is struggling with right now.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Wayne County plans to use $1 million to help investigate rape kits found six years ago in a Detroit police property storage facility.

County Executive Warren Evans announced Tuesday that the money will be allocated to Prosecutor Kym Worthy's 2015-16 budget.

The move has to be approved by county commissioners. The money would come from a delinquent tax fund.

Evans also says space will be provided in the county's Guardian Building in downtown Detroit for investigators and members of the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force.

The Detroit City Council
Michigan United

The Detroit City Council voted Tuesday to restore full power to the city's board of police commissioners.

The civilian police oversight board was stripped of its power while Detroit was under emergency management in 2013.

Prior to that, the board had the final say in matters of employee discipline and played a role in shaping department policies and procedures.

Michigan drivers have become all too familiar with the dreaded pothole.
flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.


Rebecca Kruth

The Detroit Police Department says it's moving forward with plans to put body cameras on all officers. All marked police vehicles will have dashboard cameras too.

Last spring, the DPD announced a 90-day pilot program to test several body cameras in the field.

Mayor Mike Duggan said the 20 officers who volunteered to be part of the program concluded "the technology works."

Police lights.
J J / Flickr

The Detroit Police Department says it will review its vehicular pursuit policy, following a crash earlier this week that killed two young children.

The six- and three-year-old were standing on the sidewalk in their east side neighborhood when a car fleeing police careened onto the sidewalk and struck them.

Detroit police propose fireworks curfew expansion

Jun 4, 2015
Vito Palmisano

The Detroit Police Department wants to extend a curfew for kids during the city's annual River Fest and fireworks this month.

Minors would have to be off the streets by 6 p.m. for four days this year instead of one, unless they're on the sidewalk outside their own home.

Sal Rodriguez

The street artist known for his Andre the Giant sticker campaign and Barack Obama "Hope" poster unveiled a 180 foot mural in downtown Detroit last month.

It turns out, that may not be all Shepard Fairey left behind.

Sean Davis / Flickr http://tinyurl.com/ndp3cbj

Detroit's police chief will keep his job for at least another two years.

James Craig was hired by Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who took the city through bankruptcy.

Mayor Mike Duggan says it turned out to be a good choice, and he wants Craig to stick around.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A group of about a dozen activists rallied in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Detroit today.

Last month,an ICE agent fatally shot a 20-year-old black man in Detroit during a police raid. 

Detroit Police Officer Baron Coleman with patrol car
Detroit Police Department

The Detroit Police Department today announced a new program that lets officers to take home retired cruisers at the end of their shifts.

Old patrol cars will be refurbished then assigned to officers who live in Detroit.

Sergeant Cassandra Lewis said the cars will let people know there's a police presence in their communities.

Kevin Kellom
Rebecca Kruth

The father of a young black man shot and killed by a federal agent on Detroit's west side said his son didn't deserve to die.

Terrance Kellom died  in his home from multiple gunshot wounds after a fugitive task force arrived to serve him with an arrest warrant on armed robbery charges.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's police chief says his department needs stun guns, especially after an officer was attacked with a razor blade.

  Chief James Craig tells The Detroit News that he's talked to the mayor about purchasing Tasers. He acknowledges they're controversial and is open to a public discussion about their use.

SST inc.

A Detroit Police Department pilot project is using gunfire detection technology to reduce gun crime.

Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said the ShotSpotter system identifies "gunfire in a specific area wherever the technology is set up." He said it is designed to also pinpoint the location, time, and direction of gunshots.