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Investigation Underway Into Alleged ‘Excessive Policing’ On Belle Isle, Councilwoman Says

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Among those pulled over while driving on Belle Isle recently: Detroit’s own mayor and city clerk.

Several local officials say they’ve been taking a lot of complaint calls about what they say is “excessive policing” on the island, since the state took over patrols of the 985-acre park.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mayor Mike Duggan said he’d been speeding at 30 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour zone, one morning in February.  He said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources officer was “very polite and very professional.”

“I think we’re going through a transition process, and we need to see how it works…” Duggan said.

City Clerk Janice Winfrey who claims she and her mother were pulled over on Good Friday and told by an officer he was looking to clear the island of “riff raff.”

Detroit City Councilwoman Brenda Jones has been highly critical of the patrols, calling them a “disgrace.” She says she’s taken some action.

“I was in conversation with the state, and there is…some preliminary lookings, investigations going on,” Jones said, “and I will continue to be in conversation with the state.”

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Jones said that just because the state opted to “cram it down our throats to take Belle Isle,” doesn’t mean this kind of thing will be accepted.

A report released by the Michigan DNR details more than two dozen  police stops on Belle Isle since it became a state park. Most of the motorists were pulled over for speeding. Many had warrants and several were caught with open intoxicants, which have been banned on the island. [Read a detailed rundown HERE].

Detroit Police Chief James Craig declined to say whether or not he thinks whether enforcement efforts on Belle Isle have been over the top.

“Well, you know, I’m not gonna make an assessment on that at this point,” he said, adding that he hasn’t participated in any discussion with Lansing about the patrols.

Craig is, however, working on his own plan.

“I’ve had conversations with the district captain in the past about coordination with DPD, MSP, and really keeping all of our parks safe,” Craig said. “I know that [state police and conservation officers] have jurisdiction on Belle Isle, but we’re also concerned about the other parks in the city — the two large parks — and we’ll be launching soon a parks unit.”

Under the terms of a 30-year lease, the state took control of the island on Feb. 10.

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