DETROIT (WXYZ) — Two outgoing Detroit police commissioners whose terms end this month are traveling to an out-of-state conference over the objection of their colleagues who call the taxpayer-funded trip a “junket."
Commissioners Darryl Brown and William Davis, who chose not to run for re-election this year, will travel to Tucson, Arizona for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement Conference that begins Sunday.
Their terms as commissioners expire at the end of the month.
“It’s a vacation,” said Commissioner Willie Bell, who will attend the conference. “They took advantage of it, and we as a board allowed this to happen."
Nine total commissioners will attend the in-person conference, which was canceled last year due to COVID-19, but only Brown and Davis’s terms expire this month.
The conference focuses on police oversight with the goal of improving ways to hold police accountable.
“I don’t see any reason whatsoever why their attendance is of any kind of importance,” said Vice-Chair Martin Jones, interviewed by 7 Action News on Tuesday.
Commissioners Bell and Jones said paying for outgoing commissioners' attendance is a waste of public money, since both members will leave the board in three weeks.
The cost to send Brown and Davis to the Arizona conference is just under $4,600.
“We could have allowed two more staff members who carry out the mission day-to-day for this board to attend this conference,” Bell said.
Commissioner William Davis defended the trip, stressing that his term is not yet over. Once it is, he said he'll still fight for improvements to police oversight and remain involved in the community.
“It’s not a junket for me, I’ve been actively involved,” Davis said. “My degrees are in law enforcement and criminal justice administration.”
Brown said that while his time on the board is coming to an end now, he may choose to run for a seat down the road.
“This is not a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “This is just furthering and continuing my education and knowledge and allowing me to keep up with the times and the trends that go on in civilian oversight.”
The only person who could stop either commissioner from attending next week’s trip is Rev. Jim Holley, the chair of the board, who is not getting in either man’s way.
Reached by phone this week, Holley said there’s nothing in the city charter that says they can’t attend next week's conference.
Editor's note: Thursday morning, Commissioner Martin Jones passed away in Highland Park.