Detroit police chief resigns after just more than a year on job; mayor offers no explanation

By Corey Williams, AP
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Detroit police chief resigns in surprise move

DETROIT — Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans resigned from his post after just more than a year on the job, the mayor’s office said in a surprise announcement Wednesday.

Mayor Dave Bing’s office did not offer a reason for Evans’ resignation in a brief statement announcing the change, though it came hours before a Detroit television station was to report on a video produced to promote a reality show idea starring Evans and called “The Chief.”

Bing publicly reprimanded Evans after the police department’s handling of a May 16 raid on a Detroit family’s home that left a 7-year-old girl killed by a police officer’s bullet. The raid was documented by a camera crew for A&E’s reality television show “The First 48,” which was present when the girl was killed. Bing later banned reality television crews from tagging along with police.

Bing appointed Evans to the post last July to replace James Barren, who was fired after less than a year on the job. At the time, Evans was the city’s third police chief in less than a year.

Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee will serve as interim chief until a replacement for Evans is found, Bing said.

“We appreciate the time and dedication that Warren Evans has given to the Detroit Police Department,” Bing said. “He has put the department on a path to reducing crime.”

The police department said Wednesday afternoon that Evans not expected to speak with the media.

Detroit’s ABC affiliate, WXYZ-TV, was to air a report about “The Chief” promotional video Wednesday evening. Reports of the venture first surfaced following Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ death in the May raid, after which Bing also criticized Evans for allowing a television reality show to shadow officers on cases.

A clip of the video posted on WXYZ’s website appears to have been filmed during winter and shows Evans, who came into the Detroit job with a swagger and reputation for being tough on crime, taking part in arrests.

“It’s my job to keep the city safe. I’ll do whatever it takes,” Evans said in the clip.

A WXYZ-TV reporter allowed former Detroit officer John Bennett to view the video Sunday. Bennett runs, a website often critical of the department and city administration.

“I don’t think Evans wanted that thing to be seen by anybody,” Bennett said. “Bing knew about it. When you see it, you have a good idea as to why I believe and the mayor believes it’s so appalling.”

Bing was expected to address the media late Wednesday afternoon.

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said he thinks the video “may have been the last straw” for Evans.

“Is it a resignation?” Kenyatta asked. “That’s what they always call it. I think you had this coming with the public reprimand.”

Bing lured Evans to Detroit police in early July 2009 from his longtime post as Wayne County sheriff. Evans was tasked with finding ways to reduce crime in Detroit and to bring the city more into compliance with federal consent decrees related to police use of force and treatment of prisoners.

Under Evans, the police department used data and reports to target high crime areas. Drug seizures have been up, while the number homicides is down year over year.

(This version CORRECTS Godbee first reference to ‘Ralph’ instead of ‘A.C.’)

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