Detroit has a plan to become one of the safest cities in America and we have the numbers to prove the city is going in the right direction.
As of November 1 violent crime Downtown was down 25%. Many of these are not random acts but instead involve people who know one another. For example, aggravated assault is mostly the result of domestic violence. Of every 13 aggravated assaults, 10 are domestic in nature. The murder rate is declining as well. There have been fewer than 300 homicides in 2014, down from 316 in 2013 and that was a decrease from 2012.
Property crime is down 6% so far this year and overall crime is down 10%. The Detroit Police Department, the business community, the foundations, community organizations and residents are working every day to improve every single one of those statistics.
Police Chief James Craig has spearheaded several criminal sweeps in recent months. That netted dozens of arrests.
More patrols are driving through the city and that is a deterrent. Those numbers will get even better as a result of the bankruptcy. Detroit can shed $7 billion of debt and now has the funds to put more than 200 additional police officers and an additional 100 firefighters on the street.
The ongoing collaboration between private security in the business community and the Detroit Police Department has had a tremendous impact on reducing crime Downtown and more collaboration is in the works.
The Downtown Detroit Partnership, made up of corporate, civic and philanthropic leaders, is working together with corporate security to create an updated mapping of all security surveillance systems Downtown. There are hundreds of high-powered surveillance cameras in our central business district. That is the result of more than 30 downtown businesses working with local, county, and state police agencies, universities, the DDP, the FBI, Homeland Security and Border Patrol.
Each of those participating businesses is part of Project Lighthouse, a neighborhood watch program. They display logos and banners on their buildings identifying them as a safe haven to assist anyone who is lost, separated from friends, having vehicle trouble or experiencing other safety concerns.
The program has been very successful and has been expanded to the residential areas of the city. Participating businesses in those areas display logos and banners as well as a green light to further help the public identify them as a safe haven.
A program called Optical Patrol is being gradually implemented at various Project Lighthouse locations and has already led to a reduction in crime in some areas Downtown. The program was first implemented at the Wayne State University Police Department. Dispatchers and command center operators are trained and proactively monitor surveillance cameras to watch for suspicious persons, vehicles, behavior and activities. When that kind of behavior is detected, police officers or security patrols are dispatched to investigate the suspicious situation or respond to a crime in progress. This practice has increased the Wayne State Police Department’s success in preventing and solving crimes.
DDP is also working with Project Lighthouse partners to reactivate a radio talk group for Downtown private security. That will improve communication between the corporate security command centers and the Detroit Police Department.
Panhandling and homelessness are being addressed by the business community and the police department. A program will be rolled out shortly that will make it easier for individuals to support programs that reduce homelessness and panhandling.
Other organizations are involved as well. Crime Stoppers has agreed to work with DDP to develop a tip/reward systems tailored for our Downtown area. It will include crime prevention programs as well as tools the organization has created for other parts of the city.
All that said there is still much room for improvement.
Our goal is for Detroit to be one ranked as one of the safest cities in the nation. That requires improving our entire educational system so children and adults have the skills needed for the jobs coming into Detroit as more businesses move here and the transformation of our city continues. Having an education and a job transforms people and reduces crime. The business community, foundations and others are working together on that as well.
In Detroit we know if you give a person a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach that person how to fish you feed him or her for a lifetime. That is how we will continue to reduce the crime rate in every corner of the city and become one of the safest cities in America.
– This blog also appeared in the Crain’s Detroit Business publication Detroit 2.0.