DETROIT (WJBK) - Thirteen years ago, the City of Detroit entered into a consent decree that requires federal oversight of the police department. Now the department will soon start operating without a federal monitor.
The Feds began investigating the Detroit Police Department in 2001. Initially, DPD resisted any kind of federal oversight but by 2003, they had no choice. After a string of police shootings, the city and the department agreed to comply with the federal consent decree.
It was quite a relationship, especially for attorney Sheryl Robinson Wood. The key player was sent to Detroit to act as the federal monitor to oversee DPD's day-to-day operation. It did not go smoothly.
There was drama in the D when the feds learned Wood and then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were sleeping together. The attorney was shipped out of town but not disbarred. We know what happened to Kwame.
Today, Willie Bell is a Detroit Police Commissioner. The decorated Detroit police officer was a rookie in 1971 and said, sadly, Detroit earned the federal investigation of day-to-day police procedures.
"It was well-deserving under the circumstances. People were being improperly arrested, improperly housed, they were not getting medical treatment, atll those issues were not constitutional," Bell said.
After 32 years career as a police officer Bell ran for a Detroit Police Commissioner seat - and he won. He's seen sins and now what he sees as the success of the new Detroit Police Department.
"Low pay and working department. These officers are committed to the City of Detroit. You should salute these officers who put their life on the line 24/7. We have a great relationship. I am really proud of the mayor and Chief (James) Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan and Chief Craig in terms of public safety in Detroit. I am really happy with how things are going," Bell said.
And what is it that Police Commissioner Bell believes the dept needs as soon as possible?
"We want to see body cameras as soon as possible. i know there are concerns about that. We want to see tasers. That's something that the commission has really looked at and we think there would be a difference made in terms of not taking a person's life. Those issues and the equipment is coming," Bell said.
Now that the consent is over, Detroit owed $50 million to cover the agreement.