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November 15, 2002

Detroit police brass unveil key policy changes

From: Detroit News, MI
Nov. 15, 2002

Dealing with deaf or impaired people covered in revisions

By Darren A. Nichols and David Grant / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Police officials Thursday night submitted five crucial policy changes to city residents at the police commissioners meeting in the Brightmoor Community Center on the west side.

Among the proposed changes are how officers handle situations with deaf and hearing-impaired people, mentally ill and homeless people, domestic violence, car chases and the use of force.
Megan Norris, chairwoman of the board of police commissioners, said the changes are a step in the right direction, but the key will be in how the officers carry out the procedures.
"A lot of the proof in this pudding is in the implementation," said Norris, who noted that more changes in the rules and regulations that govern how officers do their job is in the works.
The commissioners reviewed the first of the five policy changes, but did not vote on the revisions.
The changes would establish:
•A domestic violence policy that complies with new state laws.
•A stricter policy on when officers can initiate a police chase.
•How officers handle mentally ill and homeless people.
•How officers deal with people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
•Tighter use of force guidelines, which include no shooting at or from moving vehicles.
About 150 people attended the meeting and some said the changes have been a long time coming.
"We have waited a long time for these changes," said Ron Scott, a member of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, an activist group.
"The bottom line is changes have not come fast enough. It should have happened yesterday."
The proposed changes are in response to questionable fatal police shootings and mistreatment of citizens and prisoners.
A report by the city council's research division found the city paid $123 million in lawsuits to citizens who alleged police misconduct over a 13-year period.
One of the changes relates to the shooting death of Errol Shaw in 2000. Shaw, who was deaf and could not speak, was shot to death when he threatened officers with a garden rake.
Officers ordered him to drop the rake, but he couldn't hear them. A Detroit officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the case.
The commission will discuss the proposed changes at its Nov. 21 meeting in police headquarters.

Copyright 2002 The Detroit News.