james tolbert

James Tolbert
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s fired police chief may face criminal charges for his involvement in the wrongful conviction of a Detroit teen nine years ago.

James Tolbert was Detroit’s Deputy Police Chief in 2007. That’s when 14-year-old Davontae Sanford supposedly confessed to murdering four people.

Sanford was convicted in 2008. But serious questions about the case arose soon after, when a confessed hit man named Vincent Smothers said he had committed the crimes -- and had never heard of Sanford.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s former city administrator is suing the city and Mayor Karen Weaver.

The lawsuit claims Natasha Henderson was fired after she raised questions about donations to a Flint water crisis charity being redirected to another fund created by Mayor Weaver.

Katherine Smith Kennedy is Henderson’s attorney. She claims Henderson’s job was terminated hours after she raised the issue with the city attorney.

“The timing is so suspicious,” says Kennedy, who admits she doesn’t know if there was anything illegal about redirecting donations.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A divided Flint city council approved Mayor Karen Weaver’s picks for the city’s new police and fire chiefs during a raucous meeting tonight. 

Earlier this month, Weaver fired the city’s police and fire chiefs, who were both hired by the city’s former emergency managers.    

An overflow crowd jammed Monday night’s city council meeting. The audience cheered council members who talked of voting for Tim Johnson for police chief and Raymond Barton for fire chief. The crowd booed the council members who spoke out against the picks or the process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she didn’t think Friday was “a bad time” to fire three top city officials.

Some have questioned the timing of Weaver’s decision to let go of Flint Police Chief James Tolbert, Fire Chief David Cox and City Administrator Natasha Henderson last week.

This comes as the city struggles with its drinking water crisis.

“I can’t wait for the water crisis to be ended because we don’t know when that will happen,” says Weaver. 

The three officials were hired by Flint’s former emergency managers.

James Tolbert
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The heads of Flint's police and fire departments are out of those jobs.

Mayor Karen Weaver said Friday in a press release she's restructuring city operations and has accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. She's also fired City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do," says Weaver, "My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police are reviewing an incident where a city police officer handcuffed a child at a Flint school.

Flint Police Chief James Tolbert says he has apologized to the mother of the child who was handcuffed. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s police chief hopes a new federal program will bring additional training and grant funding to fight violent crime.

Police Chief James Tolbert says the Violence Reduction Network will help reduce Flint’s high violent crime rate.  

He says the program will provide training in data analysis to identify individuals most likely to commit or be the victims of violent crime. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint police officer has lost his job because of a post on his Facebook page.

Police Chief James Tolbert says Robert Garceau violated the department's social media and code of conduct policies with a Facebook post after a recent double shooting. One man died and another was critically wounded. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s police chief says a campaign to persuade city residents to talk to police is having an effect.

The "Stop the Silence" campaign asks people to share what they know about crimes with law enforcement.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The party’s over for parking lot partiers in Flint.

Police Chief James Tolbert says convenience store parking lots have become a place to hang out for some people. He says this often means drinking, illegal drug use and prostitution.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police spent part of this past week reaching out to the city’s teenagers.

"It’s all about safety,” Police Chief James Tolbert told students at Flint Southwestern Classical Academy.   Tolbert spoke during a session on things the teenagers can do to avoid trouble.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is getting some help meeting its need for training and new equipment.

For years, the Flint Police Department has struggled with budget cuts.

Now the Flint Police Foundation is stepping in to fill some of the gaps.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is using a new tool to crack down on prostitution: Facebook. 

The department plans to post the photos of people arrested on prostitution charges on its Facebook page.

Police Chief James Tolbert says his department has been trying to curb prostitution in Flint. But he says repeated arrests and sweeps have not eliminated the problem.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police are launching a new effort this week to clear a backlog of misdemeanor warrants.

The department has more than 23,000 misdemeanor warrants on its books. Some of them date back to the 1970’s.

Flint Police Chief James Tolbert says these warrants for relatively minor offenses can lead to major problems for police.

“Because they’re wanted, they run for us. They engage in high-speed pursuits,” says Tolbert. 

Tolbert says “Operation Fresh Start” lets people resolve their outstanding warrants without being arrested. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall.  Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Flint police officers are getting out from behind a desk today and getting back on the street. 

Flint Police Chief James Tolbert calls it ”inside-out" – taking police officers who usually spend their day doing administrative work and putting them into a patrol car.

He says that adds nine to 18 more patrol cars on Flint streets at a time.

“I know we’ve made multiple arrests today,” Tolbert said on Friday. “We’re getting people with warrants off the street … you’re serving multiple purposes all at the same time.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is taking a new approach to solving one of its biggest problems: money.

Flint’s declining tax base has meant deep cuts to the city’s police department for well over a decade. The result has been fewer police officers working with increasingly aging equipment.

The new Flint Police Foundation is intended to help fill the gap between the department’s needs and what its budget will allow.

The foundation will search for donors who can either provide cash or equipment.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint may soon propose new regulations on pawn shops and scrap yards.

Flint police chief James Tolbert says he’s concerned about “the crime behind the crime” of burglaries in the city.

He’s looking at a new ordinance for city pawn shops and scrap yards.

“We’re working on a way where we can better monitor what goes in and goes out,” says Tolbert, though he declined to say exactly how that would be done.

Tolbert says he’s also been talking with other Genesee County chiefs of police about the problem.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s police chief says violent crime is down in his city, despite the city reaching a grim milestone this past week.

Last Sunday, 16 year old Wesley Gillmore became the 50th person murdered in Flint this year.   Flint has notched at least fifty homicides in each of the last four years. The city set a record with 67 murders in 2012.

Still police Chief James Tolbert says Flint’s violent crime rate is improving, down 29% in the last 11 months.

To keep that downward direction, Tolbert says the public’s help is needed.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

New Flint Police Chief James Tolbert says he wants to “make Flint safe for the people who live here, (and) the people who visit here”

This is the first day on the job for Tolbert.  He previously served for more than 25 years in the Detroit Police Department, where he rose to Deputy Chief.