DETROIT (WJBK) - The Detroit Police Department celebrates diversity but are there racial disparities within the force?
A new report suggests possible inequality. Chief James Craig is disputing those claims that came from the committee he formed to look into race relations within the department. Craig calls some of the allegations baseless, the man who wrote the reports says otherwise.
FOX 2: "Do you have any reason to doubt what these officers told you?"
"No not at all," said John Bennett. "Because getting them to talk in the first place was like pulling teeth. They were afraid of retaliation. They were afraid that there would be some backlash if they spoke out against the issues that occurred."
Retired Detroit police officer John Bennett says the scathing report from Core, DPD's Committee On Racial Equality, which claims there is a growing racial problem within the department.
Bennett was a co-chair and spoke to several black officers who say there have been incidents of disparate treatment when it comes to assignments, appointments and training opportunities with white officers receiving preference.
Some units are either predominantly or entirely white even though more than 60 percent of Detroit police are black.
They also allege black officers face retaliation for speaking out about unfair treatment and that discrimination in the department comes from the top down - from the very people Chief Craig promoted.
"What we heard consistently, were those names," Bennett said. "Those deputy chiefs, those command officers who officers said were the problem."
"Most of what they learned was based on perception, innuendo and in some instances it might have been someone that had a problem with a command officer," Craig said.
Craig blasted the most damning aspects of the report. He cited the other co-chair Joseph Weekley saying many of the allegations have no substance.
Craig did say there is some good that came from the report, namely concerns raised about the department's Equal Employment Opportunity Office.
"Most department members didn't feel comfortable with the investigator assigned to that position," Craig said. "They felt that the investigator was dismissive and didn't take it seriously. So we are still in the process of making changes there."
But Bennett says that's far from enough. He says the department needs cultural diversity training for the command staff, but doubts it will happen.
"If you look at (Craig's) track record, his recent track record in the department, he's been unwilling to address these problems," Bennett said.
"I'm not dismissive there are not race issues or implicit bias that exists," Craig said. "It exists everywhere in America. However, we take those issues very seriously."
Craig points to DPD's swift reaction to racist Facebook posts made by its officers, the most recent revealed earlier Thursday the most recent officer retired before DPD could cut him loose for comments he made on social media.
John Bennett says Craig went back and forth whether or not he would disband the committee. The chief also decided to keep it up and running and to expand it. About 47 members will join CORE including a few civilian members of the department.