FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality; 313.399.7345
Ron Scott, spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, released this statement today in the wake of yet another failure to indict police officers in the killing of an African American man:
“Today’s grand jury decision not to indict the officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner compels us to look at the issue of police brutality and misconduct in a completely different way. The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality has seen this scenario play out time and time again in Detroit and around the country, and we believe that we must move beyond marching and disturbances to craft a thoughtful, programmatic response to this ongoing scourge in the Black community.
“That said, there are some things that we know for sure:
“A strong police oversight body with teeth is critical to keep the peace between police and citizens. Our Detroit Police Commission was established in 1974, after the infamous “S.T.R.E.S.S.” (Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets) unit, which was notorious for shooting young Black men in the back in Detroit, was abolished.by then-Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young. This Commission has historically had subpeona powers and the authority to approve major executive appointments to the Detroit Police Department. The Coalition has a weekly presence at these meetings to report police misconduct incidents, which we receive daily, and to participate in the citizen oversight process. Unfortunately, Mayor Duggan, continuing the work of Detroit’s former Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr, is seeking to diminish those powers, which were clearly established and codified in the recently-passed Detroit City Charter. We believe these robust oversight bodies are essential to keep errant law enforcement practices and officers in check.
“Money talks–but federal money talks louder. Over a period of about ten years, the City of Detroit paid out approximately $300 million in lawsuits because of police brutality incidents–approximately the size of Detroit’s budget deficit when the Emergency Manager was named. Lawsuits have not seemed to have a chilling effect on officers who would abuse citizens. The Coalition urges the Federal government to make the strongest statement possible with a “zero-tolerance” rule against police misconduct: the withholding of federal funds when these incidents occur.
“Body cameras are only a small part of the solution. We applaud placing body cameras on police officers, but want to note that in many municipalities where these cameras are in force, the videos strangely “disappear” due to “technical difficulties” when police brutality is alleged. Police actually have the ability and authority to save or delete recordings. We need a wholesale culture change in law enforcement–one that is driven by peace-building and de-escalation, not power-hungry police officers who seek to control a situation rather than ameliorate it.
“For more than 16 years, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality has been on the front lines, working with victims of police misconduct, supporting their families, and evolving ways to reduce the need for police intervention with innovations such as our “Peace Zones for Life” initiative. We make these comments and urge adoption of these recommendations in the interest of safety and peace for citizens and law enforcement alike.”
DCAPB/Peace Zones for Life
313 399 7345 ph
888 821 4577 fax