Freep: Held to his own tight standards, Oliver had to resign
- Jerry Oliver left himself little choice. He insisted on such
rigid standards for Detroit police officers in his effort to
reform the department that when he himself ran afoul of the law,
Oliver's only course was to resign.
Oliver quit Friday, with the looming possibility that he will
face criminal charges for packing an unregistered, loaded handgun
in his luggage Oct. 18 for a flight to Philadelphia. He was fined
$300 by the Transportation Security Administration for not declaring
the weapon, as required by federal law. Wayne County Prosecutor
Michael Duggan has said it will be next week before a decision
is reached on state gun charges.
Oliver, who came to Detroit from Richmond, Va., was by his own
description a "change agent" -- not an easy role to undertake
with the Detroit police. He was hampered by being an "outsider"
in a close-knit department with a strong union. He also inherited
a force that was under federal investigation for brutal methods
and substandard facilities, and disgruntled by lack of a contract.
Still, Oliver plunged in, with the strong backing of Mayor Kwame
Kilpatrick, trying to upgrade and modernize a department that
was set in some archaic ways.
It is fair to say that Oliver never had an easy day, due in part
to internal resistance and in part to his own autocratic style.
In a department unaccustomed to rigid command, Oliver laid down
rules and insisted they be followed. So when the chief himself
broke some rules, the cards were pretty well dealt.
Kilpatrick now will have to find a replacement with the tenacity
Oliver displayed in pushing the department where it needs to
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