Detroit reforms in response to deep towing corruption with police and city council members

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 13:55:34-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Police Department Chief James White on Tuesday announced four reforms designed to eliminate corruption connected to the multimillion-dollar towing industry in the city.

New computer software will be used to track and audit towing business activity.

All companies have to apply for new contracts with the city.

A citizens oversight unit will be formed to watch for compliance.

A new smartphone app will be developed for people to request towing services, know who’s responding and how much it will cost them.

White said the reforms are based on what has been learned by the many years of a federal investigation.

“We tried to build in our reforms, processes that would make it very difficult if not entirely impossible. But I won't say anything's impossible but very, very difficult for anyone to repeat some of the behavior we've seen,” White said during a news conference.

The corruption has run deep over several years with bribes of cash, cars and other goods and services to get business steered to and favorable treatment for towing companies.

Six Detroit law enforcement officers, including commanders and a deputy chief, have been charged.

Sixteen are in competition in Detroit.

City Councilmember Andre Spivey pleaded guilty and resigned. Councilmember Gabe Leland also pleaded guilty in a different bribery case and resigned.

Two other city council members were raided by the feds this year and implicated but not charged. Jaynee Ayres lost her election last week. Scott Benson ran unopposed and was reelected.

The investigation continues.

Another federal investigation has been going on in major crimes and narcotics for two years. Operation Clean Sweep is now over, according to White. Twelve police officers have resigned or retired.

Warrant requests for charges have been submitted for eight police officers for overtime fraud, but five cops face more serious embezzlement and conspiracy charges. It was earlier said they had stolen from drug money and shaking down drug dealers they busted.