Michigan Association of Public Employees

By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Detroit Police Commission Investigators joined MAPE in July of 2023 after a lack of responsiveness from their former Union for many years.

“With UAW, we never saw them and we never heard from them,” said Detroit Police Commission Investigators Local Union President Ellen Counts. “That should give you an indication of how our life was before. Every time we called for a Union Rep., we never got it and we were paying them more in dues.”

After being represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) for well over a decade, the 11-member unit decided it was time to find a Union that was not only more responsive, but more familiar with the type of work they do. Detroit Police Commission Investigators are a civilian group tasked with investigating and resolving complaints of police misconduct against the Detroit Police Department and its personnel.

“I definitely didn’t want AFSCME,” Counts said. “We’re a really unique unit. We’re basically civilians doing investigations on police officers. You have to have some background in investigations and a bachelor’s degree. If you do not have bachelor's, you must have a minimum of so many years of investigations in order to do this job.”

Counts, who retired after 26 years of service as a Detroit Police Officer in 2012 along with her husband, a retired Detroit Police Sergeant, said Commission Investigators come from different career fields involved in investigative cases, such as Child Protective Services.

“I love it because I’ve been doing investigations since 1989 until when I retired from the Detroit Police Department. I was doing investigations there most of my career,” she said. “I got bored after I retried and my husband found out about this job through some friends.”

When Counts joined the agency in 2021, they were in a four-year contract with the UAW that expired June 30, 2023. The group officially became MAPE members after the contract expired, so negotiations got a late start. “If we stayed with the UAW, this would’ve been in the middle of another four years, but instead we changed over. There’s a lot of internal things going on that need to be settled,” she said, which caused some Employees to leave the department.

One of those former Detroit Police Commission Investigators headed up the change of unions and was expected to become the Local President. She connected the group with MAPE Director Jerald James, who is the group’s new Labor Relations Specialist, and helped them with the union transition before her departure from the agency, something the unit members are extremely grateful for.

“She was seeking out different unions,” Counts said. “I don’t know how we ended up with this Union, but I’m glad we did. (Jerald James) has been awesome. The man knows his stuff. I was out of my comfort zone being President here … but Mr. James makes me feel comfortable. He lets me know what things are supposed to happen next, and if they don’t happen, what steps we should follow.”