Detroit Police Board Blasted for Manipulated Hiring

October 15, 2019, 8:25 AM

Detroit's independent city government watchdog harshly criticizes job-filling procedures at the Board of Police Commissioners.

The Detroit News describes the results of an 11-month investigation by Inspector General Ellen Ha and her staff. 

The city's police oversight board "abused its authority" by delegating hiring power to its secretary, a move that resulted in manipulated job postings for hand-picked candidates. . . .

The findings, involving Detroit's Board of Police Commissioners and Gregory Hicks, who serves as secretary, are outlined in a Monday report released after a nearly year-long probe by Detroit's Office of Inspector General.

The 11-member civilian oversight board, created in 1974, has broad supervisory authority over the Police Department. Responsibilities include discipline and responding to civilian complaints.

Three of the 11 commissioners, from left: Eva Garza Dewaelsche, Lisa Carter and Willie Bell. (Photo: City of Detroit)

Ha says the board violated the City Charter by letting Hicks fill executive management posts since mid-2016, according to the newspaper. He was given "day-to-day control over board affairs with all employees," the inspector general found.

“When the board voluntarily gave away their charter-mandated authority to Mr. Hicks, they also gave away the public’s right to access the board’s decision-making process through the Michigan Open Meetings Act," the inspector general report notes.

"The board was not able to vet any applicants or appoint key staff in public because it delegated such authority to Mr. Hicks," it adds.

Noting that the Board of Police Commissioners expects honesty and integrity from police, the inspector general says: "Members and staff of the BOPC should be held to equal, if not higher, professional standards.

Hicks and board fiscal manager Faye Johnson "blatantly lied" to investigators by denying she benefitted from got special treatment to get hired, reporter Ross Jones says in WXYZ coverage.

Before the job was even posted, the inspector general found that Hicks and Johnson had exchanged dozens of emails about it. At one point, Johnson asked: "What am I applying for?"

The position was fiscal manager. To help get her the job, the inspector general found Hicks went so far as to edit her resume to make her a stronger candidate. Hicks ensured Johnson got the job by requiring that candidates have a CPA’s license. Johnson was the only candidate who did, and the job was hers. . . .

"How can we hold our officers to a higher standard of integrity, when we’re not willing to clean up our own back yard?" [Comissioner] Darryl Brown asked.

"We are forwarding our final report . . . to the [Detroit] Corporation Counsel to seek enforcement of the Charter." says a statement released Monday.

The News' article by Christine Ferretti and George Hunter quotes commission chair Lisa Carter:

"If there are issues, we will address them," she said. "We will be discussing this at the next board meeting."

Executive summary (20 pages) of the 389-page report is here

Read more:  The Detroit News

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