Detroit Police believe officers coming from the community could prevent racial incidents, seeking to hire 300

As more police-involved racial incidents hit national headlines, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday the city is hiring 300 police officers this year as they work to prevent similar incidents from happening in Detroit.

“We got folks out here who may have been furloughed from your job or laid off from your job, who maybe hadn’t been thinking about the police department as a career, but if there’s something in your heart that says you were meant to help people and that you see everybody as having value, no matter who they are, we’re hiring now,” he said.

The mayor addressed a number of high profile incidents involving race and police departments. He spoke on when last February, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two men in Georgia while out jogging.

“For three months, the Georgia police and Georgia prosecutors did nothing about it until a video surfaced that forced them to, and that video showed that Mr. Arbery was murdered,” Duggan said. “As this country was absorbing those very disturbing images, on Monday, we saw George Floyd, a man in Minneapolis who they said was suspected of being a forager, and we watched the life be choked out of him by a police officer who continued to put his knee on his neck, even when the people around said you’re choking him.”

Duggan said the claim that he resisted arrest -- the video from the nearby store casts “serious doubt” on whether he put up any resistance at all.

Then the mayor said in its own way, a video just as chilling came out of New York City’s Central Park.

“Where a white woman, who had been walking with her dog off the leash, clearly in the wrong, and was politely confronted by a black man, opened her cell phone, called the police and said I’m being threatened by an African American man, please send the police,” Duggan said. “She did it in full confidence that because she was a white woman, even though she was lying, that she expected when the police showed up, they would believe her over a black man.”

Duggan said if these stories don’t break your heart, “you’re not human.” 

“Anybody who thinks there is not a racial problem in this country, think about the way black men are being treated in these very different parts of the country,” he said.

The mayor said these are also issues in the city of Detroit, including the incident involving a white police officer posting a racist and disparaging Snapchat of an African American woman during a traffic stop. Amid the new high profile racial incidents, he said he’s been speaking with Detroit Police Chief James Craig on ways to address these issues in this community.

Duggan said Chief Craig told him: “The more that a police department is staffed by people who come from the community, who reflect the community, the fewer of these incidents you have,” he said.

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