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Consent Decrees Q&A

Consent Decree Q&A

1. Q. What were the major findings of the DOJ investigation?

A. DOJ identified problems in the Detroit Police Department's policies regarding the use of force, in its arrest and detention practices and in the conditions of the holding cells it uses to temporarily confine persons who have been arrested.

2. Q. How long did the DOJ investigation last?
A. Mayor Archer initially requested a DOJ investigation in September 2000 and the investigation began in December 2000.

3. Q. What areas of the police department did the DOJ investigation cover?
A. The investigation covered the department's policies and practices in the use of force, in the arrest and detention of witnesses and in the conditions that exist in the holding cells used to hold newly arrested persons.

4. Q. What does the agreement consist of?
A. It is an agreement between the Department of Justice and the City of Detroit spelling out specific changes that will be made in departmental policy in the areas under review. Among the provisions of the agreement related to the use of force are requirements that the Detroit Police Department:

Revise its policies governing use of force to specify the types of conduct by individuals that would justify the use of various levels of force.

Require Detroit Police officers to successfully qualify with their department-issued firearms every six months.

Select an intermediate force device between chemical spray and firearms for use by officers, such as a collapsible baton.

Revise its chemical spray policy to require a verbal warning and time for a subject to comply with an order prior to the use of chemical spray.

Among the provisions of the agreement related to arrest and witness detention policies are:

The DPD will require written supervisory review of all arrests for probable cause.

The DPD will develop an internal process to ensure prompt judicial review of individuals detained without a warrant.

The DPD will require a court order prior to taking a material witness into custody.

The DPD will require an accurate and auditable record identifying the length and basis of each detention.

Conditions of the agreement related to confinement of prisoners include:

The DPD will develop and implement a comprehensive fire detection, suppression and evacuation program for all holding cells.

The DPD will develop a comprehensive medical and mental health screening program for all persons who are arrested.

The DPD will provide appropriate clothing to all prisoners placed under suicide watch, remove all hazards from holding cells and ensure adequate prisoner checks.

The DPD will ensure that all holding cells are cleaned and sanitary.

Other conditions of the agreement include:

Revised procedures for receiving, investigating and reviewing misconduct allegations.

Enhanced supervisory oversight of incidents involving injury of a prisoner and the use of force.

Expansion and enhancement of the department's risk management system.

Training for all officers and recruits regarding conditions of the agreement between DPD and DOJ.

5. Q. What is the role of the monitor?
A. The monitor provides technical assistance to the department and is in place to ensure that the Detroit Police Department complies with the agreement. The monitor will issue regular reports regarding progress the department is making in implementing the reforms outlined in the agreement.

6. Q. Who will be running the Detroit Police Department?
A. The Mayor and the Chief of Police will continue to run the Police Department. The function of the monitor is to track DPD progress and to report to the community and the DJ on that progress. The monitor does not assume any of the responsibilities of the Mayor or Police Chief.

7. Q. Is this agreement a consent decree?
A. Yes. The agreement entered into today means that the City of Detroit and the Department of Justice have agreed on the reforms that need to be made in the Detroit Police Department and on a timeline for achieving those reforms. This agreement entered into by consent of the City of Detroit and the Department of Justice will be overseen by the court.

8. Q. How will the agreement specifically impact the police department?
A. There will be a significant impact on the way business is conducted in DPD and radical changes to its policies, procedures, culture and tradition. The provisions of the agreement will provide specific and measurable actions that must be taken to ensure that constitutional rights are protected and upheld.

9. Q. What role will the City and police department play in adhering to the agreement?
A. The City of Detroit will provide the necessary support to ensure that the DPD is successful in implementing the provisions of the agreement.

10. Q. Will there be any additional resources (monetary, etc.) needed to meet the criteria outlined in the agreement?
A. Yes, but the exact cost has not yet been calculated. The Mayor said when he came into office that reform of the Detroit Police Department was a top priority, so he will work to make sure the needed funds are in place.

11. Q. Now that an agreement has been reached, what role will the DOJ play going forward?
A. The DOJ will ensure that, via the monitor's active oversight, the DPD adheres to and implements the provisions of this agreement.

12. Q. How long will the provisions/criteria of the agreement last?
A. The provisions related to the use of force and to the arrest and detention of witnesses will be in effect for five years. If the City and the DPD come into compliance with the provisions and have been in compliance for two years, the consent decree will expire in five years. The provisions related to conditions of confinement will terminate in two years if the department and City have been in compliance for at least one year.

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