Detroit Police Department

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Detroit Police Department
Detroitpd jpg w300h250.jpg
Flag of Detroit.svg
Flag of the City of Detroit
Abbreviation DPD
Motto "Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus."
Agency overview
Formed 1865
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction Detroit, Michigan, United States
Wayne County Michigan Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Detroit highlighted.svg
Map of the Detroit Police Department's jurisdiction.
Headquarters Detroit Public Safety Headquarters

Officers 1,590 (July 2015)[1]
Agency executive
  • James Craig, Chief of Police
Precincts Source:[2]

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


Historic former Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien


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.[3][4]

Technological innovation[edit]

In 1921, the Detroit Police Department became the first police department in the country to utilize radio dispatch in their patrol cars.[5] A historical marker at Belle Isle Park describes the new advancement in technology.[5]

Role of women and minorities[edit]

In 1893, the department hired its first female officer (Marie Owen) and its first Black officer (L T Toliver).[3] 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."[6] 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.[7]

Corruption charges[edit]

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.[8]

Federal oversight[edit]

In 2000, the Detroit Free Press published a series of articles after a four-month investigation into fatal shootings by Detroit police officers.[9] 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.[9] The city requested an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the department's handling of deadly force incidents.[9] By 2001, the Justice Department's investigation had uncovered issues with the department's arrest and detention practices as well.[9] 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.[10] This process cost the city of Detroit more than $50 million.[10] 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.[11]

Patrol geography changes[edit]

In 2005, the department's thirteen precincts were consolidated into six larger districts as a cost-cutting measure.[12] The department restored a number of precincts in 2009 after citizens complained about the change.[12] 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.[12]

Headquarters relocation[edit]

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[13] and convert it into a new police headquarters complex which would also house a crime lab operated by the Michigan State Police.[14] The renovated building also houses the Detroit Fire Department headquarters.[citation needed] The former casino building has 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of space.[citation needed] The historic Detroit Police headquarters is in Greektown.[citation needed] On June 28, 2013, the new public safety headquarters opened for business.[citation needed]

Fallen officers[edit]

The Detroit Police Department has lost eight officers between the years 2000 and 2011. During the 1970s, the department lost 26 officers in a span of ten years.[citation needed] Since 1878, The Detroit Police Department has lost 225 officers in the line of duty.[15] The leading cause of death in the line of duty is gunfire, with a total of 149 officers slain.[citation needed]

Duty Belt Equipment[edit]

The standard issue service pistol of the Detroit Police Department was formerly the .40-caliber Glock 22, but currently is a variant of the Smith & Wesson M&P series in .40 S&W. OC Pepper Spray, the expandable PR-24 Baton, handcuffs, and a portable radio are also carried by officers.[citation needed]

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

Rank Insignia
New York Fire Department Chief Rank.png
Assistant Chief
4 Gold Stars.svg
Deputy Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
2 Gold Stars.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
South Carolina Highway Patrol Sergeant Rank Chevrons.svg
Community Relations Officer LAPD Police Officer-3+1 - Senior Lead Officer.jpg
LAPD Police Officer-3.jpg
Police Officer
Reserve Officer


Year 2000 breakdown of sex and race in the D.P.D.:[16]

  • Male: 75%
  • Female: 25%
  • African-American/Black: 63%
  • White: 34%
  • Hispanic, any race: 3%

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.[17][18][19] As of 2008, the majority of upper command members in the Detroit PD were black.[20]

In popular culture[edit]


  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the blaxploitation film Detroit 9000 (1973).
  • Detective Axel Foley from the Beverly Hills Cop series (introduced in 1984) is an officer of the Detroit Police Department, and the actor portraying his commanding officer was an actual Detroit police commander, Gil Hill.
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the movie RoboCop (1987) and its 2014 remake. In the movies, the department has been privatized and in turn, serves the entire metro area, and is owned by a megacorporation, Omni Consumer Products (renamed OmniCorp in the 2014 remake).
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the film Collision Course (1989).
  • The Detroit Police Department is the focus of the Steven Seagal film Exit Wounds (2001).
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the film Narc (2002) about two troubled detectives investigating the murder of an undercover cop.
  • The Detroit Police Department plays a major role as the police force featured in the film Assault on Precinct 13 (2005).
  • The Detroit Police Department plays a major role in the film Four Brothers (2005).
  • The Detroit Police Department plays a major role in the film S.W.A.T.: Firefight (2011), featuring Detroit City's S.W.A.T. Team.
  • The Detroit Police Department plays a major role in the film Detroit (2017), about the 1967 Detroit riots and the Algiers Motel shooting.
  • Documentary Detroit Under S.T.R.E.S.S.(2017) covers police corruption and the deadly S.T.R.E.S.S. Task Force. [21]


  • Although seldom mentioned by name, the Police Force in Millennium City in the MMORPG Champions Online are the Detroit Police Department, as Millennium City was actually formerly Detroit prior to a major event in the lore for the game.
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the video game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The protagonist is a former Detroit Police Department SWAT commander and one mission involves infiltrating the department's headquarters.
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured on the video game, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition.
  • The Detroit Police Department plays a major role in the 2018 released Detroit: Become Human, which features the department in the year 2038.


  • Officers from the Detroit Police Department often appear on the Animal Planet reality show Animal Cops: Detroit, to help Michigan Humane Society officers in cases regarding animal abuse and neglect.
  • The Detroit Police Department's Homicide Section was featured in the crime drama Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC. The show was filmed on location in Detroit.
  • The Detroit Police Department is featured in the crime drama Low Winter Sun on AMC. The show was filmed on location in Detroit.
  • The Detroit Police Department has its own edition of the A&E television series SWAT and has also been featured in the series The First 48.
  • The Detroit Police Department frequently apperars on episodes of truTV's Hardcore Pawn. Uniformed officers, and police detectives appear on the show.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Hunter (July 9, 2015). "Fewest cops are patrolling Detroit streets since 1920s". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  2. ^ "Police Stations". Archived from the original on July 9, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Detroit Police Department". Encyclopedia of Detroit. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. ^ Hunter, George (26 February 2015). "Detroit Police Department marks its 150th anniversary". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Police Dispatch Radio Mich Markers
  6. ^ ArchiveGrid: Detroit Police Department Women's Division Collection, 1919-1973, 2010. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Former Detroit Police Women's Division honored by City Council Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Austin, Dan (29 August 2014). "Meet the 5 worst mayors in Detroit history". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d "Report of the Independent Monitor for the Detroit Police Department" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b "Court oversight of Detroit Police Department cost city $50 million, chief says". Crain's Detroit Business. 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  11. ^ "Detroit police finally rid of federal oversight". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  12. ^ a b c "Explaining the Detroit Police's Return to Precincts". Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  13. ^ New Detroit Police Headquarters (WXYZ-TV YouTube page)
  14. ^ Michigan State Police to run Crime Lab in new DPD HQ Associated Press via MLive July 6, 2010
  15. ^ "The Officer Down Memorial Page". Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  16. ^ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers Retrieved on November 21, 2012.
  17. ^ Detroit Police Officers Association v. A Young Morgan Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  19. ^ Detroit accused of bias against white cops Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  20. ^ 2008 Detroit Police Department Organizational Chart Archived May 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  21. ^

External links[edit]