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Detroit police board staff manipulated hiring process, lied to investigators

Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 10:31:48-04

DETROIT (WXYZ)  — A scathing report from the city of Detroit Inspector General accuses the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners of abusing its authority, says board staff lied to investigators and claims at least one employee got a hefty raise that he didn't deserve.

The report, issued by Inspector General Ellen Ha, was released today. Much of it focuses on board secretary Gregory Hicks, and it says the board violated the Open Meetings Act by giving Hicks the authority to make hires behind closed doors.

One of the hires involved Robert Brown. Brown already worked for the board back in 2017, but Hicks was trying to get him a promotion to the job of "executive manager."

Initially, Brown didn't meet the requirement of a four-year college degree. According to the report, "Hicks had to manipulate the minimum qualifications" by dropping the degree requirement and instead requiring a candidate simply have "knowledge and experience to perform" each task.

Brown got the new job, along with a $25,000 bump in pay, but "by all accounts no substantial increase in job duties or responsibilities," the inspector general concluded.

"I was livid. I go to work every day. I pay taxes," said Darryl Brown, a member of the Board of Police Commissioners. "This is a clear cut case of you trying to give a friend or someone a promotion who just did not meet the qualifications."

Once the inspector general began investigating, Robert Brown was unappointed and gave up most of his $25,000 raise.

The report also looked at the appointment of Faye Johnson who, according to the IG report, has known Hicks for 30 years. Before the job was even posted, the inspector general found that Hicks and Johnson had exchanged dozens of emails about it. At one point, Johnson asked, "What am I applying for?"

The position was fiscal manager. To help get her the job, the inspector general found Hicks went so far as to edit her resume to make her a stronger candidate. Hicks ensured Johnson got the job by requiring that candidates have a CPA’s license.

Johnson was the only candidate who did, and the job was hers.

The most troubling finding of all, according to the report, is that when Hicks and Johnson were questioned by the inspector general, both “blatantly lied,” denying any special treatment was provided.

"How can we hold our officers to a higher standard of integrity, when we’re not willing to clean up our own back yard?" Darryl Brown asked.

Now, the Board of Police Commissioners will have to decide what punishment, if any, is warranted. Wilie Bell was the chairman when these hires were made, and remains on the board today. He spoke to 7 Action News by phone on Monday.

"That concerns us, we want to be upfront with transparency," Bell said. "The board has that responsibility, and we would take that matter very seriously. I cannot say that we would advocate that person being terminated. I would not rule that out."

Read the entire report below.

Detroit Inspector General report on Board of Police Commissioners by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd