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Abuse Worries Rise As More Police Patrol Detroit

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(WWJ Photo/Kasey Stoddart, File)

(WWJ Photo/Kasey Stoddart, File)

DETROIT (AP) – Some Detroit community activists say they’re concerned that there won’t be proper checks in place to report and investigate alleged abuse by county and state law enforcement officers who have been brought in to help local police fight violent crime.

State police troopers and Wayne County sheriff’s deputies have increased patrols as a short-staffed Detroit Police Department also deals with $75 million in budget cuts.

Two state police squads began working last month in Detroit, while sheriff’s deputies started patrolling streets inside the city in June, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

“A lot of people are concerned about public safety, but not at the expense of oversight,” said Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality.

Officials with the state police, county sheriff’s department and Wayne State University campus police have been invited to a Sept. 13 community meeting by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners.

“We only have oversight of (the Detroit Police Department),” said the Rev. Jerome Warfield, a police commissioner. “I’m not saying we should have oversight of the other law enforcement agencies in Detroit, but we need to establish what citizens should do if they have a complaint about those agencies. The public needs to know how these interagency agreements work, and how they affect their lives.”

Complaints about police in Detroit are made to the Chief Investigator’s office, which is overseen by police commissioners.

As of Aug. 12, the 220 homicides in Detroit were down by one over the same time last year.

Through July 8, there were 88 more reported assaults. Larcenies, rapes and car thefts also were up. Robberies and burglaries were down.

As part of an initiative to help fight crime in some of the state’s larger cities, Gov. Rick Snyder also is sending state police into Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw.

“We want to get the message out that we’re not coming there for a ticket-writing campaign – we’re here to help reduce violent crime,” state police Capt. Monica Yesh said about efforts in Detroit.

But Angelo Henderson, a co-founder of the Detroit 300 citizen’s patrol group, said officers from outside agencies need to become familiar with the city.

“Don’t just come in and guard Detroiters like they’re convicts. … At the same time, there’s a cry for help among hard-working Detroit citizens who are tired of living in fear. So I hope the state police and sheriffs will get to know the people in the community and help the good people, while catching the bad ones.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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