"It was a fact-gathering mission," Flannagan says. "I met with numerous police officers and command staff. They all expressed sympathy for officers in Detroit."
Oliver, who became Detroit's police chief in February, suspended Flannagan without pay for breaking department rules. The suspension is in effect until disciplinary action is taken; Flannagan says this could take more than six months.
On April 7, "the day the clock went forward," Flannagan says, he was suspended for "having a beer in a bar off duty in plain clothes." It was nearly 3 a.m., he says.
Flannagan says the suspension is extreme. He maintains that the penalty violated previous practices in which union law has always prevailed. He also claims it's personal. Most officers disciplined for similar infractions are allowed to work and given a written reprimand, he says.
"I'm not disputing being disciplined," he says. "But I'm not prepared to become Chief Oliver's punching bag. I suspect it is retaliatory in some way" for criticizing the administration.
Flannagan says Oliver is quickly becoming known as a "union-breaking chief" in a union-strong city.
Calls to Oliver's office in Detroit were not returned by press time.
Flannagan hasn't been the only thorn in Oliver's side, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press.
In March, Detroit's Arab community was riled after they learned the city was sending Oliver to Israel for anti-terrorism training. Then there are the drug gangs; Oliver declared war on them after a 3-year-old was killed with an AK-47 in a drive-by shooting. In April, black mold was discovered in police headquarters, forcing Oliver to shut down an entire floor. That same month, there was a stir when Oliver banned police officers from wearing braids. And last week, Oliver was in the cross hairs over whether he'd turn over what the Detroit paper called a "secret, internal report" investigating a police officer's shootings that killed three people.
Now, there's Flannagan, who sounds impassioned about his case, if not overly confident. He nearly predicts Oliver's demise. "I believe Chief Oliver will irrevocably harm the mayor and will be perceived as a liability for the administration," Flannagan says. Until then, Flannagan says, he expects to be unemployed.
"Chief Oliver is attempting to force his will" just for attention, Flannagan says, adding: "This chief is seeking issues for the spotlight." B.W.