The ACLU of Michigan has worked to expose and address Fourth Amendment abuses by inter-agency police task forces and police raids. In 2014, we learned that a task force involving the Highland Park police and federal immigration agents raided a late-night dance and music event in Detroit, resulting in numerous arrests, forfeitures and allegations of mental and physical abuse by law enforcement officers. When we sent the Highland Park Police Department a public records request in an attempt to learn more about the incident, they failed to provide the requested documents.
Similarly, in 2015, we learned that another multijurisdictional task force operating in Hamtramck, Ecorse and Highland Park was seizing people’s cars for having invalid insurance, even when the cars’ owners were victims of a fraudulent insurance scam and had no idea their insurance was invalid. The task force was reportedly snatching cars from people’s driveways without a warrant and refusing to return the cars unless the owner paid hundreds of dollars in fees.
We sent the Hamtramck Police Department a public records request in an attempt to learn more about the task force’s operations, but our request was denied without explanation. Following these blatant violations of the Freedom of Information Act, we filed two separate lawsuits to obtain the requested records.
In the Highland Park case, the court ruled in our favor in August 2016, but Highland Park filed an appeal, which remains pending.
In the Hamtramck case, the case was settled in March 2017, after Hamtramck turned over the records we requested and agreed to pay our attorneys’ fees.
(Steinberg v. City of Highland Park; ACLU of Michigan v. City of Hamtramck; ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin and Legal Fellow Linda Jordan; Cooperating Attorney Ralph Simpson.)
Read our Fall 2018 Legal Docket.