Project Lighthouse illuminates a safer downtown

There’s  a new neighborhood watch in Downtown Detroit and the Downtown Detroit Partnership is working with local businesses to improve street lighting – both of these efforts are part of an overall strategy to roll out the welcome mat and make Downtown a safer place to live, work, play and shop.

The Detroit Police Department and more than 20 businesses in the Central Business District are partnering to launch Project Lighthouse, a neighborhood watch courtesy patrol program designed to keep residents, workers and visitors safer Downtown.

The partners include Atheneum Hotel, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comerica Park,

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee

Compuware headquarters in Campus Martius, Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Opera House, Detroit Police Headquarters, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, DTE Energy, Federal Government locations downtown, Ford Field, Fox Theatre, General Motors Renaissance Center, Greektown Casino-Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Joe Louis Arena, Marriott Courtyard, MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Wayne County Sheriff locations and Westin Book-Cadillac.

“In 2005, when the Super Bowl came, we were able to show that Detroit can accomplish Herculean Tasks,” Police Chief Godbee explains, “That energy is still here.”

It’s this energy that fuels the collaboration between the Detroit Police Department and the private sector. Herculean tasks for Detroit often mean financial roadblocks, but it’s this collaboration that allows Project Lighthouse to run at no cost to the City of Detroit. The businesses are footing the bill. Wayne State University is also chipping in, providing crime mapping and statistics for the program.

For now, the program lives in the Central Business District, spanning from I-375 to the Lodge Freeway and the Detroit Medical Center to the Detroit River.

Here’s how it works. The 23 businesses will open their doors as “Lighthouses” and will have security personnel available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help anyone in need. Just look for any business displaying a Project Lighthouse logo and you’ll find assistance and a safe harbor. For now, the program lives in the Central Business District, spanning from I-375 to the Lodge Freeway and the Detroit Medical Center to the Detroit River. If you find yourself lost, separated from friends, with a broken down vehicle or in some other insecure situation, you can go to any of these Lighthouses for assistance. They once actually drove someone back to Windsor. Detroit takes care if its visitors.

Rick Fenton, Vice President of Security, Olympia Entertainment

Project Lighthouse also involves neighborhood security patrols. So, in theory, you won’t have to search too far for help. You can also call 313-471-6490 to have security dispatched out to you (but do remember that this is a supplement to security and if the situation calls, you should dial 9-1-1).

The idea for Project Lighthouse came from a simple conversation between Mike Bruggeman, director of global security at General Motors, and Rick Fenton, vice president of security at Olympia Development.

“Folks use Project Lighthouse from the standpoint of the various security entities in the businesses participating,” Fenton explains “so we’ve had contact with hundreds of folks over the last eight months. We’re rolling out the plan in different phases and decided to put up the banners and signs because no one came to these security locations before they were up.”

So while the venues we have like Ford Field have no problem drawing a lot of people down to the city, Fenton says he hopes smaller events and dining experiences will draw more people once they catch wind that private sector folks are patrolling alongside the Detroit Police Department.

What Project Lighthouse comes down to is so much more than security patrols. What Fenton and his team are really doing is rolling out the welcome mat for Downtown Detroit … not only in our well known and loved venues… but also in a new favorite spot you haven’t discovered yet.


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