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Ann Arborites Demand Police Accountability

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ANN ARBOR- While ihe Ann Arbor Pólice Department (AAPD) is involved in procedures lo gain "accreditation" from an organization fornied by four law cnforcemenl officer associations, complaints about ihe AAPD's performance are mounting. To recei ve accreditation, Ann Arbor Pólice Chicf William Corbelt is paying $11,500 in fees to the Commissionon Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) plus unlold amounts of slaff time. This includes the full-time designation of a command officcr, Execulive Deputy Chicf William Hoovcr, as Accreditation Manager. Corbelt was quoted in The Ann Arbor News (April 18,1989) as saying thatgaining accrcdilalion would be a "tremendous boost" for ihe AAPD, "and by following to the letter the standards set out by the commission (CALEA), we can respond adcquately and fairly lo any criticism which mighl arisc within the communily." Critics say that the attempt to gain accreditation is designed to help the AAPD avoid or dispute criticism of the department rather than rcspond fairly to it. CALEA's standards do not require cili.en involvcmcnt in ihe formulalion and implementation of policies that require proper pólice bchavior according lo Arlington, Texas pólice chicf, David Kunkle, of CALEA. And without citizen involvemcnt, say these critics, there will continue lo be a probleni with uncorreclcd pólice misconduct. Local atlomey Jonathan Rose described CALEA' s standards as vague and insubslanlial. "The document is value neutral, and anyone could meel ils requiremcnls by filling in the blanks. Write a policy on this. Wrile a policy on thal. It is a loóse gridwork wilhin which standards are inserled. The siandards inscrlcd can be the blucprint for a democratie civilization, or for a pólice state." Rose made his commenLs lo CALEA representatives May 1 6 al a public hearing on the AAPD's fitness for accreditation at Cily Hall. About 50 pcoplc attendcd ihe hearing. Some speakers praiscd ihc dcpartmcnt whilc mosl took advantagc of a rare opportunity lo public - ly register complainLs about the AAPD. The most frcquently mentioncd complaints conccmed Sccrecy siirrounding dcpartmcnlal policies and procedures, allcmpLs to avoid complainLs about pólice misconducl, mishandling of the disposition of complaints, discriminatory enforcemenl or lack of enforccmcnt of laws, excessive use of force, and the lack of citizen involvemenl. Al the hearing, former city councilnicmber Davc DeVarli teslificd lo "a pallem of excessive force" and "a pattem of charges of racially biased enforce(see PÓLICE, page 11) poi ipf rVLIVL (frompagetwo) ment." DeVarti also decried a lack cf openness on the dcparlmenl's pan. As a councilmembcr, DeVarii said he had lo ask the AAPD sevcral times for the department' s policy on the use of force by the pólice before they produced acopy forhim.The AAPDmarked the copy thcy produced "CONFIDENTI AL." When it was discovered on May 1 2, 1989,that DeVarlimighlmake public some of the contenls of the document, he was thrcatcned with arrest. At press lime, no one from the AAPD or the County Proscculor's office had contactcd DcVarli lo make good those ihreals. In a phone interview, Accrcditalion Manager Hoover denicd that the AAPD opérales in secrecy and excludes the public fróm involvement in formulating pólice policies. "Citizens are involved in the sense thal we constantly receive feedback from ihe public and it is used in making new procedure," he said. He citcd AAPD cooperation wilh the Anti-Violence and criminalion Task Forcc in formulaling a ncw employee misconduct complainl policy as an example of pólice opcnness. Linda Kurtz and Patty Meyers of ihe Task Forcc acknowledged ihai ihe AAPD had been willing lo meet wilh them, bul did nol agrce ihal onc meeting translaled inio a policy of openness and responsi vencss. The AAPD refused lo give wrilten responses lo Task Forcé queslions aboul pólice policics and only forwarded a copy of ihe employee misconduct complainl policy some fivc months afier ihe Task Force firsi rcqucsicd ihe informalion. "We appreciated ihal ihey met wilh us," Kurtz said, "bul it only carne alter a lol of organizing on our pari. The average person who goes alone to the Pólice wilh a complainl about ihe Pólice won't gel any meaningful response." Former city councilmember Jeff Eplon has long been an advocate of citizen oversight of complainls involving pólice misconduct. At the hearing, he described an incident in which an Ann Arbor pólice officer held a Black man in custody in handcuffs long after being told by a fellow officer that the crime ihe arresled man was bcing held for had been a false alarm, a storekeeper 's error. The wrongly arrested man e ventually sued and settled for $4,000. The pólice of ficer whose misconduct led to the suit was promoted six months later and still serves as a detective at the department. Epton, DeVarti, Kurtz, Meyers, Rose, and others are calling for citizen oversight of complaints of pólice misconduct. But, Hoover says he would not favor citizen oversight and knows of no discussions within the department for formulating such a plan. After the hearing, one of the members of C ALEA 's panel there, RapidCiry. South Dakota pólice chief Thomas L. Hennies, spcaking for himself and not CALEA, said: "1 f a tax-pay ing citizen does not have a say in the policies of his pólice department, something is doggone wrong there." Jonathan Weber along with Jonathan Rose form the Ann Arbor law flrm of Rose & Weber whkh currently represents Harold Marcase in a lawsuit against the AAPU and others.