After getting very close to hiring a chief investigator a few weeks ago, the city’s Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) has suddenly, and inexplicably, gone back to the drawing board. 

The chief investigator position has been vacant for more than three years. The position would help make effective oversight of the Detroit Police Department possible. Currently, BOPC Supervising Investigator Ainsley Cromwell is serving as the acting chief investigator without any additional pay.

Warfield speaks at the BOPC’s March 16 meeting after his job offer was rescinded. Photo credit: Malak Silmi

Last month, the board approved the Rev. Jerome Warfield Sr. to move forward in the hiring process for the position. On March 2, they rescinded their offer.

At first the issue seemed to be about money. The board offered an annual salary of $105,000 to Warfield and he counter-offered with $130,000. According to emails obtained by Outlier, the board then came back with $111,000, which Warfield accepted on March 1.

The next day, the board rescinded the offer and said they would begin looking for another candidate. 

“So when I woke up the next morning, I received an email back from HR that said, ‘unfortunately, the board is moving in a different direction,’” Warfield told Outlier. “How can you legally rescind an offer after it has been accepted, and the person has been processed?”

Warfield raised this same question during public comment at the BOPC’s March 9 and March 16 meetings. At least five commissioners also expressed interest in providing the public an explanation as to why this offer was rescinded.

“We need to get a full explanation and clarity before we can move on to talk about hiring,” Commissioner Willie Bell said at the March 16 meeting. “We got a mess. … But we need to deal with it properly.”

City of Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett acknowledged the confusion regarding the investigator offer being rescinded and told Outlier that the City Charter allows the BOPC to remove an appointee at “any point in the process.”

“The Board of Police Commissioners ultimately chose to exercise its legal authority and voted to move on to other candidates for the position of chief investigator,” Mallett said. “The city wishes Rev. Warfield the best and thanks him for his interest.”

The backpedaling on the hire comes after a three-year vacancy for two key posts at the BOPC. The city’s legal department sent a stern public letter in November urging commissioners to hire both a chief investigator and board secretary because existing city employees were illegally occupying those positions in temporary appointments that dragged on for years.

Victoria Shah attends her first BOPC meeting as Board Secretary on March 16. Photo credit: Malak Silmi

Jesus Hernandez became the chair of the BOPC’s Personnel & Training Committee in late November and led the board in the successful hire of Victoria Shah as board secretary on March 13. Hernandez told Outlier that he’s excited to work with Shah to select a chief investigator.

“I think she’s going to probably give input into who that person will be because she’s going to be their manager later,” Hernandez told Outlier. “I actually think it’s lining up probably better than we could have planned.”

Mallett said he wishes the hiring process had moved along a bit more swiftly, but that he appreciates the board’s careful approach to hire the right person for the important position.

The board has declined to provide any explanation of the rescinded offer. The Personnel & Training Committee will now review applications from the same candidate pool they reviewed prior to offering the job to Warfield. Hernandez said the committee will recommend a new candidate for chief investigator to the board by March 30.

Malak (she/her) believes in local journalism that provides people with verified and comprehensive information. Her favorite places to unwind and pick up a new read are at Detroit’s bookstores and libraries.