By Charlie LeDuff
It's been a bad run for the Detroit Police Department's 11th Precinct. Cops putting guns to the back of other cops' heads. A police commander beating a party goer into a coma. Now comes this: internal affairs detectives are investigating allegations that a desk sergeant raped a woman after she had come into the station house last week to check on an unrelated case.
Sources say the sergeant may have then gone to the woman's house, ostensibly to update her on the status of her case. The woman later came back to the precinct to file a report that the sergeant had raped her. No record of the complaint can be found in the police data base, according to my sources.
When asked to confirm that such an accusation had been made, a high ranking member of the department seemed genuinely surprised to hear of it before calling back later in the day to confirm there is indeed an open investigation.
"That's a matter being handled by internal affairs," the police official said. "Internal Affairs answers directly to the chief, so the rest of us would have no knowledge unless otherwise notified."
So here we go again. More trouble for Chief of Police James Craig, whose patrol officers have taken to calling 'The Little Man in the Big Hat" as his department -- and particularly the 11th Precinct -- slips dangerously out of control.
Remember back in November, an undercover drug crew from the neighboring 12th Precinct was forced to the ground at gunpoint by a group of special operations officers from the 11th Precinct who were raiding a house in the same neighborhood and mistook the cops from the 12th for everyday citizens.
Craig promised a full investigation on that. Nothing has come of it. No use of force reports were filed, officials tell me. The command staff of the 11th was left in place.
Now, the man in charge of the 11th, Commander Timothy Leach, is accused of fracturing a man's skull at the St. Patrick's Day parade earlier this month, while moonlighting as a bouncer inside a tavern without permission. A lawyer representing the man's family said the police originally refused to take a report and Commander Leach filed no use of force report. The chief, we're lead to believe by the chief, was not informed of the incident for days. The commander has been suspended and his office is said to have been cleared out. A case of too little, too late.
And now the rape allegation, which at this point, is only an allegation.
But again comes 'I don't know.'
Deaf, dumb and blind is no way to run a police department.
There is a concerning lack of accountability and professionalism that begins at the top here in Detroit. Remember: the FBI rejected Detroit's crime numbers for the first half of 2017 as bunk and refused to accept them. The chief assailed the FBI and a press conference hastily convened at the scene of a barricaded gunman.
Vice News asked for statistics on all cop related shootings in Detroit for the past five years. The department answered again: I don't know, claiming it would take 12 years and $77,532 to compile the statistics that are available for free on other departments' websites.
A police officer recently died in a high speed car crash on city streets, the chief calling it a training exercise that was unsanctioned and unknown to supervisors, even though the crew the officer belonged to answers directly to the chief. The chief in turn promised a full investigation and still we've heard nothing.
The deputy chief of police plead guilty to accepting bribes earlier this year in connection with towing contacts. Chief Craig asks us to believe he knew nothing about towing contracts either.
Who asks the chief for accountability? Not Mayor Mike Duggan, who is distracted with a wide-ranging public corruption probe into his administration. Not the deputy mayor, who happens to be Chief Craig himself.
What we get instead are sock puppet press conferences. The citizens of Detroit and rank-and-file police officers deserve better.