The administration of Mayor Byron W. Brown has been taking sweeping actions to reform the City’s Police Department, following the mayoral campaign that civic leader Betty Jean Grant waged against him.
Merely a few short months after Grant’s bruising criticism of the Brown administration’s dismal record on unsolved homicides, its militant posture towards the Black community, and of the Police Commissioner — the four term Mayor has adopted Grant’s policy positions.
Earlier this year Brown fired Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda, who was widely seen by the community as being ill prepared for the position. He was thought to have received the position as a political favor following his time as a campaign volunteer for the Mayor’s first election. Grant campaigned on replacing Derrenda.
“You can’t come in like an army of invaders and expect people to give you information. For the murder on Carl Street, twenty people saw that murder. Not one witness came forward because they did not think their information would remain confidential,” she said during a Mayoral debate.
Just last week the Brown administration announced that it would be ending its ‘Strike Force Unit’ and instead focus on community policing, a key pillar of Grant’s agenda. Her calls on the Mayor to re-energize the cold case squad, require body cameras on police officers, and to properly classify suspicious deaths as homicides, are all said to be in various states of reform.
It’s rare that an opposition candidacy for Mayor instigates so much substantive policy change so quickly, and in a matter of a few short months. The Mayor would never admit that Grant is the reason for the reforms (they are longtime political rivals) but to even the causal observer it is exceedingly obvious.
In fact, there is only one major policy item of Grant’s agenda for the Police Department that Brown hasn’t yet acted upon. That’s the formation of a ‘Citizens’ Oversight Committee’, which would have investigative authority over the Department.