Detroit Police Department

The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is a municipal police force responsible for the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit Police Department
Flag of the City of Detroit
Motto"Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus."
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionDetroit, Michigan, United States
Map of the Detroit Police Department's jurisdiction.
HeadquartersDetroit Public Safety Headquarters
Agency executive
Precincts Source:[1]



Town constables were appointed starting in 1801. A Police Commission was established in 1861 but the first forty officers did not begin work until 1865.[2][3]

Technological innovation

In 1921, the Detroit Police Department became the first police department in the country to utilize radio dispatch in their patrol cars.[4] A historical marker at Belle Isle Park describes the new advancement in technology.[4]

Role of white women and people of color

In 1893, the department hired its first female officer (Marie Owen) and its first Black officer (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."[5] 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.[6]

Corruption charges

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]

Federal oversight

In 2000, the Detroit Free Press published a series of articles after a four-month investigation into fatal shootings by Detroit police officers.[8] 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.[8] The city requested an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the department's handling of deadly force incidents.[8] By 2001, the Justice Department's investigation had uncovered issues with the department's arrest and detention practices as well.[8] 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.[9] This process cost the city of Detroit more than $50 million.[9] 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.[10]

Patrol geography changes

In 2005, the department's thirteen precincts were consolidated into six larger districts as a cost-cutting measure.[11] The department restored a number of precincts in 2009 after citizens complained about the change.[11] 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.[11]

Headquarters relocation

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[12] and convert it into a new police headquarters complex which would also house a crime lab operated by the Michigan State Police.[13] The renovated building also houses the Detroit Fire Department headquarters. The former casino building has 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of space. The historic Detroit Police headquarters is in Greektown. On June 28, 2013, the new public safety headquarters opened for business.

Fallen officers

The Detroit Police Department has lost eight officers between the years 2000 and 2011, and lost thirteen officers between the years 2012 and 2019. During the 1970s, the department lost 26 officers in a span of ten years. Since 1878, The Detroit Police Department has lost 228 officers in the line of duty.[14] The leading cause of death in the line of duty is gunfire, with a total of 150+ officers slain.

Rank structure and insignia

Rank Insignia
Assistant Chief
Deputy Chief
Community Relations Officer
Police Officer
Reserve Officer


Year 2013 breakdown of gender and race in the D.P.D.:[15]

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

(Does not equal 100 percent due to rounding)

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.[16][17][18] As of 2008, the majority of upper command members in the Detroit PD were black.[19]

See also


  1. "Police Stations". Archived from the original on July 9, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  2. "Detroit Police Department". Encyclopedia of Detroit. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  3. Hunter, George (February 26, 2015). "Detroit Police Department marks its 150th anniversary". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  4. Police Dispatch Radio Archived December 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Mich Markers
  5. ArchiveGrid: Detroit Police Department Women's Division Collection, 1919-1973, 2010. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
  6. Former Detroit Police Women's Division honored by City Council Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
  7. Austin, Dan (August 29, 2014). "Meet the 5 worst mayors in Detroit history". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  8. "Report of the Independent Monitor for the Detroit Police Department" (PDF).
  9. "Court oversight of Detroit Police Department cost city $50 million, chief says". Crain's Detroit Business. April 1, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  10. "Detroit police finally rid of federal oversight". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  11. "Explaining the Detroit Police's Return to Precincts". Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  12. New Detroit Police Headquarters (WXYZ-TV YouTube page)
  13. Michigan State Police to run Crime Lab in new DPD HQ Associated Press via MLive July 6, 2010
  14. "The Officer Down Memorial Page". Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  15. Retrieved on May 4, 2019.
  16. Detroit Police Officers Association v. A Young Morgan Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  18. Detroit accused of bias against white cops Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  19. 2008 Detroit Police Department Organizational Chart Archived May 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved November 22, 2012.
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