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Roman Gribbs

roman gribbs, roman gribbs mayor
Roman Stanley Gribbs December 29, 1925 – April 5, 2016 was an American politician who served as the Mayor of Detroit from 1970 to 19741 Later, Gribbs served as a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals2 Gribbs was the last white mayor of the city, which was in the midst of becoming a majority-black city, until the election of Mike Duggan in 2013

Life and careeredit

Gribbs was born in Detroit on December 29, 19253 He was raised on a farm near Capac, Michigan4 His parents were Polish immigrants who were basically farmers, though his father also worked on the Ford assembly line After graduating from high school in 1944,3 Gribbs served in the Army until 19483 He graduated from the University of Detroit in 1952 with a degree in economics and accounting,3 and received a law degree from the same institution in 19543 He was an instructor at the university from 1955 through 1957,3 and became an assistant prosecutor in 1957, a position he held until 196434 He entered private practice in 1964,3 and ran for a seat as a Recorder's Court judge in 1966, but lost4

In 1968, Gribbs was appointed sheriff of Wayne County, later winning a full four-year term4 However, in 1969 he was elected mayor of Detroit,3 defeating opponent Richard H Austin who later became Michigan Secretary of State Rather than residing in the Manoogian Mansion, official residence of the mayor of Detroit, Gribbs maintained residence in Rosedale Park Historic District Detroit, Michigan, a neighborhood in northwest Detroit In 1969, Gribbs created the Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets STRESS, a secret and elite police unit

STRESS used a tactic called “decoy operation,” where a police officer tried to entrap potential criminals in an undercover sting From its inception, STRESS all but ignored white criminals, instead focusing their operations on black communities STRESS increased confrontations between the black community and police For example, during its first year of operation the Detroit Police Department had the “highest number of civilian killings per capita of any American police department” The unit was accused of conducting 500 raids without the use of search warrants and killing 20 people within 30 months

In 1973, Gribbs declined to seek re-election5 and was replaced by Coleman Young who was elected Detroit's first African-American mayor in November of that year

After leaving the mayor's office, Gribbs returned to private practice3 Gribbs became a circuit court judge in 19752 He was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1982,2 upon which he served until his retirement in 20015 Gribbs retired to Northville in suburban Detroit, and conducted private practice in mediation and arbitration He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Piast Institute, a research center devoted to Polish and Polish American affairs56

Personal lifeedit

Gribbs was married to Katherine Stratis 1932–2011 from 1954 to 1982, and together they had four daughters Paula, Carla, Rebecca, Elizabeth and one son Christopher In 1990, he married Leola Young BarrLee had two children by a previous marriage, Robert Brent Barr, deceased and Dr Michelle Barr Gribbs died on April 5, 2016 at his home in Northville, Michigan from cancer, aged 907


  1. ^ Simpson, Victor L 6 November 1969 "Candidates win without 'law and order' issue" Rock Hill Herald AP Retrieved 28 July 2010 
  2. ^ a b c Benac, Nancy 3 November 1982 "Dem Victories Cost Women Their Seat on High Court" Argus-Press AP Retrieved 28 July 2010 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEALS", 1999–2000 Michigan Manual PDF, Legislative Council, State of Michigan, p 585, ISBN 1-878210-06-8 
  4. ^ a b c d "Meet Roman Gribbs, New Detroit Mayor" The Windsor Star Nov 5, 1969 
  5. ^ a b c "Biographies of Piast Institute Staff, Directors and Fellows: Hon Roman H Gribbs" Piast Institute Retrieved November 18, 2010 
  6. ^ "The Mission and History of Piast Institute" Piast Institute Retrieved November 18, 2010 
  7. ^ Ferretti, Christine 5 April 2016 "Ex-Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs dies at age 90" The Detroit News 
Political offices
Preceded by
Jerome Cavanagh
Mayor of Detroit
January 6, 1970 – January 1, 1974
Succeeded by
Coleman Young

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