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Published: Friday, 9/5/2008

Detroit police chief to retire after 5 years, was Kilpatrick appointee

Ella M. Bully-Cummings Ella M. Bully-Cummings

DETROIT - Chief Ella M. Bully-Cummings, who joined the police department at age 19 and five years ago made Detroit the largest U.S. city with a female police chief, is retiring as the mayor who appointed her prepares to resign.

The department announced Chief Bully-Cummings' retirement yesterday as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to a pair of felony obstruction charges in a sex-and-misconduct scandal that has dogged the nation's 11th-largest city.

Chief Bully-Cummings said her retirement was based on personal and not political considerations. She had supported the mayor and was an assistant chief at the time of the May, 2003, firing of internal affairs Chief Gary Brown, which sparked a whistle-blowers' lawsuit at the heart of Kilpatrick's downfall.

"My desire was based upon my family's needs," said Chief Bully-Cummings, 51.

When asked about the ordeal involving Kilpatrick, she said: "I am praying for the mayor and his family and his children. That's all I'm going to say." She said she had planned to retire for some time, but had waited because she didn't want to add to the difficulties facing Kilpatrick.

Ken Cockrel, Jr., who will take over as mayor in two weeks, said he has some candidates in mind to replace the chief but it was too early to announce it.

The department credited Chief Bully-Cummings with working to meet the goals of federal consent decrees and handling the major task of coordinating public safety for Super Bowl XL.

Kilpatrick named her chief in November, 2003. With three decades of experience, she inherited a department that was struggling to remake itself and win community trust.

The department thanked the chief for her "dedicated service to the department as well as her guidance."

But Detroit City Councilman Sheila Cockrel said she was pleased the chief was stepping down.

"I think it's time for this police department to address the fundamental issue that we have to respond to crime," she said.

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