Detroit's police oversight board overwhelmingly approved a plan intended to bring more transparency to the city's process for selecting towing contractors amid an FBI public corruption probe believed to involve the industry.
The Free Press reports on the plan passed in an 8-1 vote Thursday:
Under the current, permit-based system, the Board of Police Commissioners in 2016 approved five-year towing permits for several companies who work on a rotational basis. The permits are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
Going forward, the city will select towing companies through a competitive bidding process rather than one based on permits. Under the plan approved Thursday by the police commissioners, the city's procurement office will oversee the bidding process and contracts will be subject to City Council's approval.
Detroit pays private companies to tow parked cars and trucks that are disabled on the street by the parking department for vehicle violations. Private towing companies also can be hired for police purposes. They tow vehicles for evidence, remove abandoned cars, recover stolen vehicles and perform other duties.
The Detroit Towing Association opposed the move.
Though the FBI probe centers on City Council, and the new plan gives City Council a greater role in the selection process, the decisions will now be subject to public view.
Police Chief James White is expected to soon release a plan overhauling the way the department allocates business to contractors, developed at Mayor Mike Duggan's request. A former deputy police chief and half-dozen officers were indicted for bribery in a separate towing scandal several years ago.