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Detroit Police Department

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Detroit Police Department
Patch of the Detroit Police Department
Patch of the Detroit Police Department
Seal of the Detroit Police Department
Seal of the Detroit Police Department
Badge of a DPD officer with badge number removed
Badge of a DPD officer with badge number removed
Agency overview
Formed1865; 159 years ago (1865)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionDetroit, Michigan, United States
Map of Detroit Police Department's jurisdiction
Operational structure
HeadquartersDetroit Public Safety Headquarters
Agency executive
  • James White, Chief of Police
  • Downtown Services
  • 2nd Precinct
  • 3rd Precinct
  • 4th Precinct
  • 5th Precinct
  • 6th Precinct
  • 7th Precinct
  • 8th Precinct
  • 9th Precinct
  • 10th Precinct
  • 11th Precinct
  • 12th Precinct

The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is a municipal police force based in and responsible for the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 1865, it has nearly 2,500 officers, making it the largest law enforcement organization in Michigan.


A patrolling Detroit police cruiser in 1955
The historic former Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien


Town constables were appointed for Detroit starting in 1801. A formal Police Commission was established in 1861 but the first forty policemen did not begin working in Detroit until 1865.[2][3]


Role of women and ethnic minorities[edit]

In 1893, the department hired its first policewoman (Marie Owen) and its first black policeman (L. T. Toliver).[2] The Detroit Police Department established a Women's Division in 1921 that was tasked with cases of "child abuse, sexual assaults, juvenile delinquency, and checking establishments for illegal minors."[4] Female officers were not allowed to work on criminal cases unless accompanied by male officers until 1973, after a series of discrimination lawsuits prompted changes in department policy.[5]


Technological innovations[edit]

In 1921, the Detroit Police Department became the first police department in the country to utilize radio dispatch in their patrol cars.[6] A historical marker at Belle Isle Park describes the new advancement in technology.[6]


Corruption charges[edit]

In February 1940, Mayor Richard Reading, the Superintendent of Police, the county sheriff and over a hundred more were indicted on corruption charges. The Mayor was accused of selling promotions in the department. Eighty officers were accused of protecting illegal gambling operations in the city. In the end, the Mayor served three years in jail, ending in 1947.[7]


In 1957, the Detroit Police Department employed 5,000 policemen and operated a fleet of ambulances to respond to medical emergencies.[8]


Federal oversight[edit]

In 2000, the Detroit Free Press published a series of articles after a four-month investigation into fatal shootings by Detroit police officers.[9] At the time, Detroit had the highest rate of police-involved shootings of any large city in the United States, surpassing New York, Los Angeles, and Houston.[9] The city requested an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the department's handling of deadly force incidents.[9] By 2001, the Justice Department's investigation had uncovered issues with the department's arrest and detention practices as well.[9] Between 2003 and 2014, the Detroit Police Department was placed under federal court oversight by the Justice Department as the result of allegations about excessive force, illegal arrests and improper detention.[10] This process cost the city of Detroit more than $50 million.[10] By 2014, the department's use of force had been "seriously reduced" and the U.S. District Judge overseeing the case stated that the Detroit Police Department had "met its obligations" for reforms.[11]

Patrol geography changes[edit]

In 2005, the department's thirteen precincts were consolidated into six larger districts as a cost-cutting measure.[12] The department restored a number of precincts in 2009 after citizens complained about the change.[12] In 2011, it was announced that the Detroit Police Department would be reverting to the original precinct structure, with officials citing "gap[s] in services" and concerns over the new command structure.[12]


On January 23, 2011, 38-year-old Lamar Moore walked into the 6th precinct with a pistol shotgun and shot and wounded 4 officers before being killed.[13]

On November 9, 2017, undercover police posing as drug dealers tried to arrest a group of undercover police posing as drug buyers, which led to a multi-person fight and several injuries. Police Chief James Craig told the Detroit Free Press that the brawl was "probably one of the most embarrassing things I've seen in this department."[14]

Headquarters relocation[edit]

On June 11, 2010 it was reported that the City of Detroit would acquire the former MGM Grand Detroit temporary casino building (originally the IRS Data Center) on John C. Lodge Freeway for $6.23 million[15] and convert it into a new police headquarters complex which would also house a crime lab operated by the Michigan State Police.[16] The renovated building also houses the Detroit Fire Department headquarters.[citation needed] The former casino building has 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of space.[citation needed] The historic Detroit Police headquarters is in Greektown.[citation needed] On June 28, 2013, the new public safety headquarters opened for business.[citation needed]


The 2022 budget for the department was $341 million, constituting 28.7% of the city's general fund.[17]

2020 coronavirus pandemic[edit]

As the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to spread around the United States, several Detroit Police officers tested positive for being infected with the COVID-19 virus, and over 200 more were quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus in the Detroit metro area. Several infected people in the Detroit metro area had already succumbed to the virus and died after it was first discovered in the counties Detroit and its suburbs were located in. The Detroit Police suffered its first casualty to the virus with the death of a 38-year-old civilian dispatcher.

Fallen officers[edit]

Since 1878, the Detroit Police Department has lost 228 officers in the line of duty.[18]

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

Rank Insignia
Assistant chief
Deputy chief
Neighborhood police officer
Police officer
Reserve officer


2013 breakdown of gender and ethnic minorities employed by the DPD:[19][a]

  • Male: 75%
  • Female: 25%
  • African-American or black: 63%
  • White: 33%
  • Hispanic, any race: 4%
  • Asian: 0.4%

The Detroit Police Department has one of the largest percentages of Black officers of any major city police department, reflecting current overall city demographics. Lawsuits alleging discrimination stemming from the influence of affirmative action and allegations of race-based promotional bias for executive positions have surfaced repeatedly.[20][21][22] As of 2008, the majority of upper command members in the Detroit PD were Black.[23]


The table below lists people killed by and controversies involved with the Detroit Police Department.

Date Name of deceased (age) Officer(s) involved Description of event
2004 6 Killings and 15 Non-Fatal Shootings by Police Officer William Melendez and Others According to reports, a group of cops led by William Melendez "were acquitted in a jury nullification verdict of federal charges of brutality in false arrest in dozens of cases, despite the testimony of nine Black cops against them."[24] Melendez was arrested years later for the beating of Floyd Dent in January 2015.[25]
2004-11-11 Dennis Crawford (31) Officers LaRon York and Barron Townsend Crawford was unarmed and was killed by LaRon York and Barron Townsend. According to reports "York shot him four times, once in the back, once in the head, and twice in the leg."[26] The mother of Crawford's son claims that Crawford was shot 15 times in an online report. In addition, the federal lawsuit was settled with the Crawford family for an undisclosed amount and York was later removed from the police force, however Townsend remained and was involved in the killing of Tommie Staples in 2008.[27]
2005-01 Unarmed Motorist Undisclosed An unarmed and unnamed motorist, who according to reports is still unnamed to this day, was "shot to cops as he waited with his stalled vehicle."[28]
2005-02-02 Wilbert Burks (39) Undisclosed Killed by police in his home. According to eyewitnesses "It was overkill,” a neighbor told reporter Dianne Bukowski. “They had over 28 shots and he never shot off a round. The house was riddled with bullets. His girlfriend had two children in the house at the time. Her teenage daughter passed out, and they had to call EMS for her. Afterwards, the police were laughing in the street, like it was a party."[29]
2005-02-12 Allante Lightfoote-Powell (16) Undisclosed Killed by police in the basement of his home. Police claim he was armed and came out firing however according to reports "no gunshot residue tests were performed on his hands, according to records later obtained from DPD."[30]
2005-07-03 Anthony Scott (25) Undisclosed Killed by police at a gas station. Police claim he had a knife in his hand but according to witnesses "he did not pull it or otherwise threaten the cops."[31] Scott's family sued the city of Detroit for a wrongful death. It was settled for $1.2 million.[32]
2005-08-07 James A. Stone Undisclosed James "Poppa" Stone, "died in [police] custody at the Second Precinct after pleading to go to the hospital for several days."[27][33]
2006-02 Rosetta C. Williams Undisclosed According to reports, Williams was "killed by Kevin Lorenzo Collins at Mt. Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Lawsuit filed by Fieger’s office says that police failed to arrest Williams after he viciously assaulted Williams’ daughter."[27]
2006-01 through 2006-06 Alleged Rapes by Detroit Police Officers Mishael Osmand, Michael Parish and others According to reports, "dozens of men on Detroit’s southwest side were subjected to literal rapes during pretextual traffic stops by officers Mishael Osmand and Michael Parish, under the guise of anal cavity searches for drugs, conducted on the public streets."[27]
2006-10-03 Unidentified Undisclosed According an inspection by federal monitor’s office "only 15 percent of Detroit police car videotapes are functional."[27] Many alleged crimes committed by Police went unrecorded during this time.
2006-11-26 Brandon Martell Moore (16) Officer Eugene Williams Moore was unarmed and "shot to death in the back by off duty police officer Eugene Williams."[27]
2006-11-26 Unidentified Young Man Undisclosed According to reports, "An unidentified young man was shot to death that evening in a hail of gunfire by police, according to neighbors. The police had pursued him on foot after he allegedly tried to rob a Family Dollar store on W. McNichols. They claimed he fired a shot at them as he ran."[27]
2007-02-12 Artrell Dickerson (18) Officer Kata-Ante Taylor According to reports, Dickerson was "shot in the back and killed by officer Kata-Ante Taylor as the teen, already wounded, lay on the ground next to Cantrell Funeral Home."[27]
2007-07-07 Jevon Royall (30) Officers Edward Brannick and Michael McGinnis According to reports, Royall was "shot to death outside his home in front of his family by police officers Edward Brannick and Michael McGinnis."[27]
2007-12-26 Rose Cobb (47) Sgt. David Cobb (Rose's Husband) [34]
2008-06 Tommie Staples Jr. Officers Steven Kopp and Barron Townsend Staples was unarmed and shot by Steven Kopp and Barron Townsend. Townsend was also involved in the killing of Dennis Crawford with another officer LaRon York, in 2004 which had led to a federal settlement.[35] In the killing of Staples they "chased him down an alley in retaliation for the role he and his wife Jacquelyn Porter played as advocates for neighborhood children stopped by police."[36] The federal lawsuit was reported as "settled for $2.5 million" in 2010.[37]
2008-07-01 Shelton Bell Jr. (16) Undisclosed According to reports, Bell was "shot to death by an off-duty cop after allegedly demanding the keys to the cop’s car at a gas station on the west side, then running when the cop pulled his gun. The autopsy report shows that Bell, Jr. was shot ten times, five in the chest, three in the back, once in the head behind his right ear, and once in his left arm."[27]
2008-07-18 Robert Hill (35) Undisclosed According to reports, Hill "rode his bicycle to an apartment building in Detroit and was rammed by a police car into another vehicle."[38]
2008-11-08 James Willingham and Jeffrey Frazier Undisclosed Both were killed after a high-speed state trooper chase. According to reports, Troopers "violated their own high-speed chase regulations and should have been considered criminally liable for the deaths of the two Detroit men."[39] In addition, Troopers arrested a reporter on scene who was trying to cover the incident and claimed she "interfered at the scene of a fatal traffic accident that followed a police chase."[40]
2009-14 Robert Mitchell Undisclosed According to reports, Mitchell, a high school sophomore, was unarmed and tasered to death by multiple Detroit police officers.[41]
2009-08-13 Unnamed Motorist Undisclosed According to reports, an unidentified motorist "died in a fiery crash" after being pursued by Detroit Police.[42]
2009-10-28 Imam Luqman Abdullah Undisclosed According to reports, Abdullah, the leader of a Detroit Mosque, was "shot 21 times in a raid, coordinated by a joint task force of FBI, Detroit and Deerborn cops."[43] No explanations have been provided for this killing, and according to Attorney Lena Masri there was a "concerted effort by the government to cover up what actually happened that day."[44]
2010-05-16 Aiyana Stanley-Jones (7) Officer Joseph Weekley Jr. Stanley-Jones, aged 7, was shot during a Detroit Police raid. According to reports, "juries twice failed to reach a verdict in Weekley's case" allowing Weekley to walk free.[45][46]
2010-07-04 Demarlo Hobbs (31) Undisclosed According to reports, Hobbs was "shot to death while riding a bicycle."[47]
2010-07 Unidentified Man Undisclosed An unidentified alleged robbery suspect shot to death by police.[48]
2010-09 Unidentified Man Undisclosed An unidentified alleged shooting suspect shot to death by police.[49]
2010-09-17 Unidentified Young Man (22) Undisclosed An unidentified alleged carjacking suspect shot to death by police.[50]
2011-08 Robert Coffee (16) Undisclosed Retired Cop According to reports, "Coffee was shot 8 times" after he had allegedly robbed a McDonalds.[51]
2012-03-23 Ian May (18) Retired Officer Lamar Nowell Sr. May was shot while fleeing the scene of a robbery that he allegedly took part in.[52]
2012-07-08 Adaisha Miller (24) Officer Isaac L. Parrish III Miller, was shot to death while "dancing with Detroit cop" and witnesses claim that Parrish accidentally discharged his firearm, because he was improperly carrying it.[53] The Detroit Police Chief claimed it was a "freak accident."[54]
2013-04-12 Matthew Joseph (23) Officer Patrick Hill According reports, Joseph was allegedly involved in a crack deal, and was shot after a short chase. Officer Patrick Hill later also died, as a result of wounds from "friendly fire."[55]
2014-01-28 Mackenzie Cochran (25) Lucius Hamilton, John Seiberling, Gaven King and Aaron Maree According to reports, Cochran was "choked to death" by mall security guards. At the time, no arrests were made, and Detroit prosecutors refused to press charges.[56] In May 2023, 4 Security guards were charged.[57]
2015-01-28 Floyd Dent (57) Officer William Melendez Dent, was unarmed and beaten by Inkster Police during a traffic stop. Dent later agreed to a $1.4 million settlement with the city. Melendez was subsequently fired and charged with assault.[58]
2015-03-30 Anthony Clark Reed (24) Undisclosed Reed died during a traffic stop. According to reports, he had asthma and police "yanked him out of his car, shortened his breath more, and increased his heart rate" where he subsequently died.[59]

List of chiefs[edit]

Order Name Tenure start Tenure end Mayor(s) served under Notes Ref
1st Frank C. Andrews May 4, 1901 February 10, 1902 William C. Maybury [60]
2nd George W. Fowle February 11, 1902 June 20, 1905 William C. Maybury
George P. Codd
3rd John B. Whelan July 1, 1905 May 14, 1906 [60]
4th Fred W. Smith March 14, 1906 June 30, 1909 [60]
5th Frank H. Croul July 1, 1909 May 17, 1913 [60]
6th John Gillespie May 17, 1913 September 30, 1916 [60]
7th James J. Couzens September 30, 1916 July 5, 1918 [60]
8th Ernst Marquardt July 5, 1918 January 14, 1919 [60]
9th James Woffendale Inches January 14, 1919 February 3, 1923 James J. Couzens,
John C. Lodge
(5th) Frank H. Croul February 3, 1923 July 15, 1926 John C. Lodge,
Frank Ellsworth Doremus,
Joseph A. Martin,
John C. Lodge,
John W. Smith
Previously served from 1909–1913 [60]
10th William P. Ruteledge July 15, 1926 January 21, 1930 John W. Smith,
John C. Lodge,
Charles Bowles
11th Harold H. Emmons January 21, 1930 March 21, 1930 Charles Bowles [60]
12th Thomas C. Wilcox May 21, 1930 January 9, 1931 Charles Bowles
Frank Murphy
13th James K. Watkins January 10, 1931 August 14, 1933 Frank Murphy
Frank Couzens
14th John P. Smith August 15, 1933 March 31, 1934 Frank Couzens,
John W. Smith
15th Heinrich A. Pickert April 1, 1934 January 1, 1940 Frank Couzens,
Richard Reading
16th Frank D. Eaman January 2, 1940 June 1, 1942 Edward Jeffries [60]
17th John H. Witherspoon June 1, 1942 December 31, 1943 Edward Jeffries [60]
18th John F. Ballenger January 1, 1944 January 1, 1948 Edward Jeffries [60]
19th Harry S. Toy January 1, 1948 January 2, 1950 Edward Jeffries,
Eugene Van Antwerp
20th George F. Boos January 2, 1950 September 30, 1952 Eugene Van Antwerp,
Albert Cobo
21st Donald S. Leonard October 1, 1952 June 4, 1954 Albert Cobo [60]
22nd Edward S. Piggins June 5, 1954 September 1, 1958 Albert Cobo,
Louis Miriani
23rd Herbert W. Hart September 2, 1958 January 2, 1962 Louis Miriani [60]
24th George Clifton Edwards Jr. January 2, 1962 December 19, 1963 Jerome Cavanagh [60]
25th Ray Girardin December 19, 1963 July 21, 1968 Jerome Cavanagh [60]
26th Johannes Spreen July 22, 1968 January 5, 1970 Jerome Cavanagh [60][61]
27th Patrick V. Murphy January 6, 1970 October 1, 1970 Roman Gribbs [60][61][62]
28th John Nichols October 15, 1970 September 21, 1973 Roman Gribbs [62][63]
29th Philip G. Tannian 1974 1975 Roman Gribbs,
Coleman Young
30th Bill Hart 1976 February 14, 1991 Coleman Young [65][66][67]
31st Stanley Knox February 14, 1991 1994 Coleman Young [68][69]
32nd Isaiah McKinnon 1994 1998 Dennis Archer [70][71]
33rd Benny Napoleon July 1998 July 15, 2001 Dennis Archer [72][73]
34th Charles Wilson July 15, 2001 2002 Dennis Archer [73][64]
35th Jerry Oliver October 31, 2003 2003 Kwame Kilpatrick [74]
36th Ella Bully-Cummings November 3, 2003 September 2008 Kwame Kilpatrick Acting chief November 3, 2003 – 2004 [75][76][77][78][79][80]
37th James Barren September 2008 July 4, 2009 Kenneth Cockrel Jr.,
Dave Bing
38th Warren Evans July 6, 2009 June 21, 2010 Dave Bing [83][84]
39th Ralph Godbee June 21, 2010 October 9, 2012 Dave Bing Was interim police chief from Jun. 21-Sep. 21, 2010; suspended from position from Oct. 3, 2012 until his Oct. 9, 2012 resignation [84][85][86][87][88]
Chester Logan (interim) October 9, 2012 July 1, 2013 Dave Bing [89]
40th James Craig July 1, 2013 June 1, 2021 Dave Bing,
Mike Duggan
41st James E. White June 1, 2021 present Mike Duggan Was interim police chief from Jun. 1–Sep. 21, 2021 [92][93]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Does not equal 100 percent due to rounding.


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External links[edit]