Mapping Police Misconduct
Incidents of misconduct trended toward home invasions, robberies, and illegal seizures of assets from Detroit citizens both in an out of the criminal justice system. On a mass scale, drug use and distribution within the DPD caused dismissals, transfers, and suspensions -- but the incidents for which Detroit residents complained ranged from armed robbery to brutal assault and homicide.
The incidents we found were overwhelmingly police shootings and armed robbery of civilians. We have identified roughly 30 incidents within this time period, which we know is a small portion of the infractions against officers during the late 1980s. The emergence of armed robbery as a prominent portion of our research coincides with the increase in drug raids occurring during this time; entrance into the home became a normal occurrence as the War on Crack escalated. Incidents that had been previously appearing in situations of street enforcement were now moving into the home and into more concentrated areas.
In 1989, Michigan legislators moved to give more authority to police officers attempting to enter homes without knocking or giving prior notice to the owners/occupants. This was one of the final legislative steps in securing the authority on behalf of the police to freely enter places suspected of being drug dens, crack houses, or generally involved in some sort of criminal activity, with little restriction or oversight. Mapping the incidents shows that most instances of police misconduct and brutality occur in the border regions between income brackets and between race; on the north side of Detroit, incidents of robbery and police shootings follow a horizontal path that is only a few blocks south of the racial and economic barrier point, from primarily Black areas to white ones as well as primarily impoverished areas to economically secure ones. It is notable that the activity traced to the Chambers Brothers drug gang was also concentrated in areas of northern Detroit, although one cannot make any concrete connection between the two based on this data.
Mapping Incidents of Misconduct by Race using 1990 Census:
Mapping Incidents of Misconduct by Income using 1990 Census: