Detroit police officer charged with stealing amidst tough week for department

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A 17-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department is accused of committing a crime on the job.

Michael Merritt is accused of taking a hydraulic jack and work tool from a construction truck. It allegedly happened in the back parking lot of a Detroit police station on Grand Boulevard in September.

He appeared in court on theft charges Friday and is currently suspended without pay.

"It's tragic when you think it's a right to wear this badge," said Chief James Craig. "It's a privilege and an honor - he obviously forgot who he works for. "And you work for the people he obviously forgot that."

This is latest incident for the police department which is also dealing with a separate criminal investigation of two other Detroit police officers.

"There is something to be said about the fact that we are as transparent as we are, with the police department and the public," said Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association.

Jerry Bradford Jr. died after crashing his car on the east side. Craig said two officers violated policy by engaging in a chase through a neighborhood.

The same officers then waited three to five minutes before arriving on scene of the fatal crash. They are each suspended from the force while the criminal investigation in that crime continues.

"Because you sit in a car with someone and because you are not the driver of that police car, you are equally responsible for what goes on in the field," Craig said. "We all have responsibilities when something goes wrong."

Then there was an interaction caught on cell camera. A man wrongfully accused of shoplifting hit and injured by an off-duty officer working security at Meijer.

The chief says the man was resisting and the action by the officer was not excessive.

Craig and Diaz are quick to point out that they are addressing each allegation quickly and openly, and added there are more interactions with the public that end in a positive manner.

"In the last 24 hours our officers have had probably 1,000 incidents of contact with the public," Diaz said. "And if we have only two complaints out of that I think we are doing pretty good."