What do they do?
The Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity (CRIO) assures all City of Detroit residents, visitors, and employees enjoy a safe environment, free of discriminatory barriers. This includes monitoring the inclusion of Detroit employees in large construction projects, providing language services to non-English speaking residents, and resolving civil rights complaints.
CRIO started in 1943 as the Interracial Committee, put in place by Mayor Edward Jefferies after the 1943 race riots. In 1953 it became the Commission on Community Relations and 1974 it was renamed the Human Rights Department, which it is still named in the 2012 city charter. However, under Mayor Duggan the department became known as CRIO.
In addition to investigating individual complaints and occurrences of civil rights violations, the department also has responsibility for the city programs that support equity–or benefits for organizations that need additional access to resources in order to be successful.
For example, there is additional funding available across the country for minority owned businesses, woman owned businesses, Detroit resident businesses and other classifications of businesses that don’t have the same access to support. However, the funding is available once the business proves it is one of those types of business. CRIO processes and makes decisions about such certifications.
How is the Department Organized?
This department is headed by a Director and Deputy Director, both of whom are appointed by the Mayor.
There are currently five main areas of the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity’s work:
- Civil Rights Team – investigates all civil rights complaints.
- Language Access Program – ensures all non-Englisjnon-english speaking Detroiters can communicate with the City.
- Detroit Business Opportunity Program – confirms what businesses are Detroit based , minority owned, and other classifications.
- Incentives Team – ensures the required hiring of Detroiters on construction projects that receive public incentives.
- Construction Outreach Team – connects residents to the construction industry and the construction industry to Detroit residents.
The Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission oversees the staffing and policies of CRIO. The Mayor’s Director and Deputy appointments must be approved by the Human Rights Commission and the policies the department uses to do its work (such as investigating a racial discrmination complaint made against a local business) are also subject to the commission’s approval.
The 11 member commission is appointed by the mayor with approval from the city council. Members must be residents of the city, and one member must come from each of the seven council districts. The other four are appointed to represent the city at-large.
How do I get involved?
Attend a Human Rights Commission meeting to hear how Departmental programs are going and the condition of Civil Rights in Detroit. Find information about their meetings posted on their website. Make a public comment should you be motivated to give input on the CIRO’s work.
Learn more about holding appointed government positions in Chapter 3, Lesson 5; being an appointed official might be right for you!
Finally, if you experience a civil rights violation such as discrimnation or see someone else being discriminated against in the city of Detroit, report it to the department. Especially if it’s occurring within a Detroit business or government office. You can find the report form on the CRIO website.