Detroit police commissioner removed from seat after report finds hundreds of complaints closed improperly

Several hundred complaints filed by citizens against police officers were improperly closed, an inspector general report claims following a review of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners' actions after several complaints alleged improper actions taken by some current and former members.

The complaints were closed without any input from the board's chief investigator or approval from a commissioner, the Office of Inspector General found. The method that was instead implemented was "problematic" and "a clear violation of the Charter," Detroit's Inspector General Ellen Ha wrote in her report.

The normal process for addressing a citizen's complaint normally involves several documents that include the allegations made by an individual, an introductory letter to the complainant, an event log, a report of the findings signed and dated by four people, including the investigator, their supervisor, the chief investigator, and a commissioner. 

The inspector found at least 400 complaints were closed without any documentation.

The improper closures started after the interim secretary for the board at the time, Melanie White, developed a pilot project to address a backlog of complaints. The project involved "triaging" both new and backlogged complaints. 

According to the inspector general, White abused her position when she implemented this project.

The report also stated Commissioner Willie Bell had knowledge of the improper practices and failed to correct White's actions. Bell also did not inform the board of the process either. He was removed from his position as Vice Chair during the board's meeting last week.

Charles Holley, Bryan Ferguson, and Annie Holt, all former police commissioners who have since stepped down or resigned from their seat were also found to have abused their positions when they submitted budget requests without getting full approval from the board. 

Ferguson stepped down after police arrested him when he was caught with a sex worker in 2023.