There is some concern that progress made by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) on clearing a backlog of civilian complaints against police officers was overstated because 256 cases were dismissed in error without being investigated.
BOPC Chief investigator Jerome Warfield has been focused on improving the civilian complaint process since he came to the job earlier this year. Warfield discovered that complaints were not investigated but were closed anyway and made the information public at yesterday’s BOPC meeting. All but one of the closed cases were from 2021 and 2022, before Warfield was on the job. Commissioners expressed their gratitude for his due diligence.
This error underscored the point Warfield and board secretary Victoria Shah made during the meeting; that the office of the investigator needs more staff and a better case management system. The office has nearly 1,000 complaints to investigate and Warfield said they can’t clear them without 10 more staff members.
The board did not vote on adding staff or much of anything else of consequence during the meeting. Board chair QuanTez Pressley tried to get commissioners to vote on whether or not to reinstate Melanie White to her previous job of executive policy manager rather than keep her on paid leave while outside investigations possibly involving White proceed. Pressley said instead of White being paid while at home “doing absolutely nothing” he would rather “at least get a work product.”
Some commissioners said they would rather postpone such a vote but were unsuccessful at doing so. Instead of voting, Commissioners Linda Bernard and Willie Burton left the meeting. The BOPC was then without a quorum and the meeting was adjourned.
“I apologize to the public for our inability to do the city’s business today,” said Pressley.
Detroit Documenter Heather Alder contributed to this reporting.