2016 DPD report revealed racial tensions in Detroit's 6th precinct

Despite the recent buzz regarding racial issues in the sixth precinct, officials tell us they have warned about problems the department has had in the past.

"You knew there were racial problems, you called it "rumor and innuendo" but now you have to deal with it," said John Bennett, a retired Detroit police officer.

Bennett, a 20 year veteran with DPD, is referring to a 2016 finding that referenced examples of institutional racism at the same precinct currently under fire. But when the report was delivered to Detroit Police Chief James Craig, he says it fell on deaf ears.

"Most of what they learned was based on perception, innuendo," said Craig a few months later at a news conference, in response to the report.

But Bennett said that's not true. 

"We found that a lot of black officers had complaints that they weren't allowed to go to trainings, they weren't getting the primo jobs per se, they weren't getting the cushy assignments that were being given to white officers," he said, "and this was being done by upper level command staff."

The sixth precinct has been making headlines in 2019 following the firing of two police officers over a disparaging and racist snapchat video. In the video, Gary Steele and Michael Garrison can be heard using racist language direted at an African American woman at a traffic stop.

Following an audit, Craig said the precinct seemed to have a pattern of targeting African Americans for tickets and car tows, often during the last hour of their shift to get out of overtime. Craig said earlier this week that that's being looked into. Bennett said that supervisors should have seen this coming - and that one of the officers fired has had problems in the past.

"We knew there were issues," Bennett said. "In fact, the officer who was fired, one of the officers was the one who got into a near-fight with a black officer at number six, which precipitated the chief coming to me to do the committee and be a part of the committee."

That committee was designed to improve race relations within the police department. 

When asked why the 2016 report held no credence to the current revelations, the DPD released a statement saying many of the allegations in the report had no substance.

"The Detroit Police Department's stance now is no different. The report was surfaced, but the recent audit was a more robust, more invovled assessment of the social culture in the sixth precinct."