The ACLU of Michigan was troubled by news reports that the Detroit Police Department hired the Manhattan Institute and Bratton Group as consultants, as these were the firms that helped the New York City Police Department devise its unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program.
In 2013, the ACLU sent a letter outlining its concerns to Detroit’s police chief. The letter included a Freedom of Information Act request for documents concerning stop-and-frisk policies as well as details regarding the relationship between the police department and the consultants.
The documents we eventually received indicated that the Manhattan Institute had been paid more than $600,000 for a six-month contract. Additionally, we learned that the consultants advised community members that because dirty gasoline stations owned by Chaldeans are sites of carjackings and other crimes, the neighborhoods of these business owners should be picketed.
Our investigation prompted a second ACLU letter in April 2014, this time directed to Governor Snyder, the only elected official with supervisory powers over the emergency manager in charge of Detroit.
The letter warned that Detroit is unable to afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for racially divisive consulting services, and pointed out that such an imprudent use of public funds may have been avoided had a democratically accountable city council been required to sign off on the contract. When the consulting contract expired it was not renewed.
(ACLU Attorney Mark Fancher; Cooperating Attorney Ralph Simpson.)