The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) got some news about staffing and financial problems under its watch and kicked the can of a current staffing problem further down the road at Thursday’s meeting.

The board is keeping its former highest ranking employees, Melanie White and Lawrence Akbar, on paid leave while three outside investigations proceed. 

A motion to remove White immediately failed after a 5-4 vote. Another motion to bring back White to work by Monday also failed after a 7-3 vote.

“So, it is the will of this board to keep Melanie White suspended with pay,” Board Chair QuanTez Pressley said.

There was no motion to terminate or bring back Akbar. Pressley said Akbar’s position is “protected,” explaining that if the board voted to terminate him, he would have the option to return to the board’s staff in a different position.

The board was able to agree on reopening the 256 citizen complaint cases that had been improperly closed without being investigated, as Chief Investigator Jerome Warfield notified the board last week. 

Board Secretary Victoria Shah had some news for commissioners after she did a “spot check” audit and took a closer look at payroll practices. She found employees receiving pay raises without board approval and significant overtime payments made to employees not actually eligible for overtime.

She also found a “staff member holding a position with no record of board appointment, no apparent work product.” It’s not clear if this same staff member is the paid “ghost employee” being investigated

Pressley said he feels embarrassed to have these revelations come to light, all of which happened before he was appointed. 

“Maybe the airing out of what is actually going on helps us to be clear about what we need to do to rectify,” Pressley said.

Documenters Heather Alder and Elyas Khan contributed to this reporting.

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.