DETROIT (WWJ) - Across the city of Detroit, residents are growing weary of the violence — especially after crime statistics revealed 386 criminal homicides took place in the Motor City during 2012. It’s the city’s highest murder rate in nearly 20 years.
So, what are city leaders doing about the problem? Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 Friday, Mayor Dave Bing said some of the pressure needs to be taken off of the police department.
“We are putting the total responsibility for safety in our city on our police department. And I think as good as the police department is, as stretched as they are, they’re not going to solve all of the problems we have as it relates to crime,” Bing said.
“This is a community issue that we must deal with. So when we start talking about leaders in the community, we all need to come together and have a sit down… to come up with some ideas that we need to execute and put into plan. The police department will lead it, but we’ve got to have our total community at the table,” he continued.
The mayor was echoed by interim Police Chief Chester Logan, who said community involvement is a big piece of the crime solving puzzle.
“We have to continue to work as hard as we can to identify exactly what the cause of these problems are. We have a lot of poverty in our community, unemployment, our literacy rate is low, and we’ve got to try to overcome those problems as a community. We as the police department can’t do it alone, the mayor can’t do it alone, the community can’t do it alone. We’ve got to come together,” said Logan.
Listen to the full interview:
Many have suggested Detroit utilize the National Guard in some way, whether it be to knock down vacant houses or help local law enforcement, but Logan said that wouldn’t be received well by citizens.
“To be perfectly honest with you, my recollection of the National Guard, the last time they were in Detroit goes back to the ’67 riot. And it’s kind of hard for me to get beyond that right now, and I’m certain a lot of people in the community think about the National Guard and the ’67 riot,” said Logan.
Instead, Bing said having increased assistance from Michigan State Police would be more helpful in the place where the city needs it the most: the streets.
“I’m not so interested in the National Guard coming in, but more state police would be helpful. Anytime you can get additional police on the street, I think we would be receptive to that,” he said, adding that gun control is obviously a huge issue in the city.
“Out of the 386 homicides, 333 were perpetrated by guns. And so, some kind of way we’ve got to figure out how we can get guns out of the hands of the criminals. I know a lot of our citizens are going out and buying guns to protect themselves right now, but they are not the people perpetrating crimes right now. It’s the bad guys and believe me, there are people within families, within the community who know who these guys are and they’ve got to let the police know so that the police can do their job,” said Bing.
Detroit city leaders aren’t just looking at Michigan resources for help either. They’re reaching out to law enforcement and government officials in other areas, such as New York, where authorities have been successful in curtailing the crime statistics.
“I’m not opposed to getting in contact with the mayor or anybody else who may be able to help us based on some success factors that they’ve had,” said Bing.
“One of the things that we’re going to do, probably next week, is we’re going to reach out to the police department [in New York] to at least take a look at some of the things they’re doing,” said Logan.
And they’ll take all suggestions into consideration, but Logan said they intend on preserving the integrity of the Detroit Police Department.
“We have to be very, very careful on how we police. In the city of Detroit, it probably can be said that we have one of the best constitutional police departments in the country, and we want to make sure that we don’t lose that,” said Logan.