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The Board of Police of Commissioners was created in 1974 by City Charter, which was adopted by the vote of the people. The Charter vests broad supervisory authority over the Police Department in the five-member civilian Board of Police Commissioners.
The Detroit Police Department was established by a state legislative act in 1865. Prior to the enactment of the City Charter, the legislature provided for a four-member commission to be appointed by the Governor for eight-year terms. The four-member commission system continued until May 4, 1901, when the first single commissioner was appointed. The single commissioner form of administrative authority over the Department continued until enactment of the City Charter.