Reporting Marie Osborne
DETROIT (WWJ) – More than two dozen law enforcement officials joined together to announce an “unprecedented” initiative aimed at curbing the tide of violent, deadly crime in Detroit.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says a pilot program that targets repeat offenders and known criminals with federal penalties will now be expanded to include most of Detroit’s eastern district, which has seen a sharp rise in violent crime.
McQuade said she is making reducing homicides in Detroit her “personal resolution in 2012.”
“We have the ability to get stiffer sentences in the federal system,” explained McQuade, speaking to reporters on Wednesday. “If you are a felon and you posses a firearm we can prosecute you federally. And we have now expanded the number of cases we’re going to take arising out of the eastern district.”
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee says with stiffer sentences, criminals will not be back on the streets re-offending. That, he said, is a key component of putting a stop to violent crime in the city.
“Statistically, you have to understand, once somebody commits one homicide, criminologists have shown it’s easier for them to commit the second, the third, the fourth. It becomes a pathology,” said Godbee.
According to McQuade, the program is already working.
She said that since the pilot’s launch last fall, police have been able to get some extremely dangerous criminals off the streets, including a 27-year-old now facing serious time in federal prison for possessing a machine gun equipped with a grenade launcher.
Wednesday’s announcement comes in the wake of a rash of crime that included the fatal shooting of a 9-month boy and the death of a 6-year-old at the hands of two 15-year-old carjackers with an AK-47. A 14-year-old allegedly shot his mother to death while she slept, and a teen girl was caught in the crossfire and killed when two got into an argument and opened fire on a Detroit street.
Also over the weekend, an 86-year-old World War II victim was carjacked at a Detroit gas station in broad daylight on his way home from Bible study.