Warren police department expands diversity with new officers

A dozen new officers were sworn in Friday in Warren as the city's police department becomes more diverse.

"We want to reflect the community as a whole," said Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

Warren's predominantly white police department of roughly 200 officers, according to Mayor Fouts, has only one black officer.
"We have one African-American officer as of today. We've increased that three times to now we have four," he said.

Five of the officers sworn in Friday were black and Hispanic. The officers came from cities across the state, including Grand Blanc, Saginaw and Fraser, but roughly half of the officers come from the Detroit Police Department.

Chief James Craig previously told FOX 2 that officers leaving after free training has become a problem.

"What a Detroit police officer's exposed to in a year, some of these agencies their police officers don't have that experience after 10, 15 years of service," he said.

"I respect Chief Craig and he's doing a good job in Detroit, but I gotta say we give great benefits, retirement benefits, and working conditions and everything," Fouts said.

But with the hiring of a few more black and Hispanic officers -- many may ask: Is this too little, too late? Fouts says that's not true at all - he hired the first African-American fire commissioner.

The city and the police force have been under fire after a former officer filed a federal lawsuit claiming racial discrimination. DeSheila Howlett says she was "constantly peppered with inappropriate, insulting, demeaning, racially stereotypical and offensive comments." 

Because of her race and gender -- the lawsuit also alleges that Howlett was not given proper or timely backup, continuously.

Mayor Fouts can't comment on the case but he says, despite these allegations, he is deeply committed to a diverse department.

"Regardless of their ethnicity or their background, I think we've got a great group of officers. They're experienced and they are the best and the brightest that we could get," he said.