THE BLOG
10/10/2012 03:23 pm ET | Updated Dec 10, 2012

Culture Change Needed in DPD Management

If the reports are accurate, Chief Ralph Godbee will remove himself from the lime-light by resigning his position as Detroit's chief. Good move for Godbee, better move for Detroit. But what about the rest of the body that's been in place and has been enablers of this culture of unethical and immoral behavior, which has existed for some time in the police department? The Internal Affairs Unit, headed by Commander Brian Stair, has done nothing to address these things that have become a hallmark of the police department of late. Chief Godbee is not the first and unfortunately he won't be the last to allegedly have an affair with a subordinate, and it really is a well know truth of the department that doesn't become important until it becomes a distraction. In a normal situation, two consenting adults should have the right to have a relationship, but this is not a normal situation or environment. Not only can the persons involved be harmed, but the department and the city also faces harm when these relationships end badly. Ethics rules forbids a subordinate from having a relationship (even consensual) with a supervisor.

Internal Affairs has a responsibility to address criminal as well as unethical activity, but under the leadership of Commander Stair, immoral and unethical actions are little more than pebbles under their feet. It's the culture. Already the decision has been made to return Officer Angelica Robinson to work after she threatened to harm herself and took a picture with her gun in her mouth.

With the exception of former Chief James Barren, every chief of police since 2002 has had their share of character questions. What the department needs in addition to a James Barren like chief is a strongly independent Internal Affairs Unit that can act immediately to address ethical as well as criminal issues. We know the public corruption arm of Internal Affairs was destroyed under former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick around the same period he hand picked Brian Stair to lead the Internal Affairs unit. Coincidence? Not likely. Short of a charter amendment, what could be done is that Internal Affairs becomes a direct report to the mayor. But even that won't address what should be done if you have a mayor with similar issues. as we've had in the past. Therefore, city council needs to act to place an amendment in the charter that will make the Internal Affairs unit of the police department independent of the police department and of the mayor. Under the new city charter is the newly created position of Inspector General. Internal Affairs should report directly to the Inspector General and bring some transparency to the police department and its operations.