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Mayor Bing: Weekend’s Arson Fires Down 50%

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SALEM, MA - OCTOBER 27:  Costumed people dressed as witches walk though the street next to the old Town Hall as they visit the town where, back in 1692, witch trials took place, October 27, 2005  in Salem, Massachusetts. Thousands of tourists come to attend the large Halloween festival.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SALEM, MA – OCTOBER 27: Costumed people dressed as witches walk though the street next to the old Town Hall as they visit the town where, back in 1692, witch trials took place, October 27, 2005 in Salem, Massachusetts. Thousands of tourists come to attend the large Halloween festival. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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DETROIT (WWJ) - City officials are crediting the thousands of volunteers who patrolled Detroit neighborhoods for the relatively quiet Angels’ Night weekend.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said there has been a 50 percent reduction in the number of fires over the first two days of the Angels’ Night campaign.

Speaking live on WWJ, Mayor Bing said there were 52 fires on Saturday and Sunday nights. That compares to 104 fires during the same time period last year. Arsons peaked in 1984, when more than 800 blazes drew international media attention.

Bing said they do have one more night to go but he was pleased with the quiet weekend.  He thanks volunteers for their “tremendous effort.”

“We worked really hard to engage everybody and a lot of people are coming out helping,” said Bing. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed at this point. We’ve got another night. Hopefully, we’ll get the same kind of results.”

The mayor said he continues to look to the future of reshaping Detroit, especially in three specific areas. “We’ve got teams together that are attacking things such as crime, as blight, as abandonment, things of that nature, and we’re really starting to make some progress,” he said.

Hear WWJ’s interview with Mayor Bing:

Terrance Wheeler, deputy director of Detroit’s Community Access Centers, said he’s pleased with the numbers thus far.

“It just kind of shows you the strength is in the numbers,” said Wheeler. “When you have people out patrolling, the eyes and ears of the community watching and are engaged, it kind of preludes what Mayor Dave Bing is talking about as far as community engagement for volunteerism. We are really able to combat some of the negative things that happen when we’re not out patrolling.”

Wheeler hopes this spirit of community will last even past the Halloween Angels’ Night period.

“It seems as though the feel is different. There’s a spirit of engagement, of committment, of enthusiasm. I mean, we’re not going to allow our city to be seen on a national scale in a negative manner. So, the folks in the community are engaged and committed to this effort to keep everyone safe. With all the vacant structures and abandoned homes in the community, it’s our civil duty to protect folks that live in the City of Detroit.”

Angels’ Night is a Detroit tradition aimed at curtailing the violence and arson that plagued the city for years on the night before Halloween – previously known as Devils’ Night — by enacting teams of volunteers to patrol city streets. The first Angels’ Night was created in 1995 after the city drew national attention for an estimated 300 Devils’ Night fires in 1994.

To volunteer for Detroit’s Angels’ Night Campaign, call (313) 224-3450, or visit AngelsNight.org.

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