Aug 16, 2022 - News

City aims to resolve police complaint backlog by end of year

Illustration of a hand holding a magnifying glass over a stack of papers.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's a pileup of citizen complaints against Detroit police officers that won't be resolved until the end of the year.

Why it matters: The backlog of about 800 citizen complaints — defined as complaints that haven't been addressed within 90 days of their filing — has been weighing on investigators and staff at the city's board of police commissioners in the months since the pandemic dramatically reduced staffing.

  • Lawrence Akbar, Detroit's interim chief investigator of complaints against police, told reporters during a public info forum Monday he hopes to resolve the backlog before 2023.

Between the lines: The system has been overwhelmed in part due to what interim board secretary Melanie White says is misuse — citizens filing complaints that don't rise to the level of police misconduct.

  • "A lot of those complaints require, I would say, immediate service. … People complain about the police impounding their vehicle, they need to know how to rectify a situation," Akbar said.

What's happening: The office of the chief investigator is facing pressure to provide greater transparency around its plan to tackle the backlog.

  • Last month, police commissioner and chairman of the citizen complaint committee Ricardo Moore told BridgeDetroit that the backlog is hurting public trust, adding that there's a lack of communication between him, Akbar and White about how to resolve it.

What we're watching: At yesterday's forum, Akbar said he's noticed a trend in complaints against younger officers.


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