DETROIT (WWJ) – Community leaders are calling on Detroiters to stop the long tradition of shooting off guns to celebrate the New Year.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig tells WWJ’s Marie Osborne that people are being asked to ring in the new year with a bell, not a bang.
“We’ve seen a lot of success over the six months I’ve been here in terms of driving down violence in the city and we certainly don’t want New Year’s Eve to be an exception,” said Craig.
Numbers show gunfire has gone-down on New Year’s Eve since the program began over ten years ago.
Former Police Chief Ike McKinnon tells WWJ that as a young officer in the 1960s it was not safe for police on the streets of Detroit on New Year’s Eve.
“They would tell the police officers to leave the street, because it was dangerous. Think about this – it was dangerous for police to be on the street because people were shooting. If it was dangerous for police … what is it for the people of the city?” said McKinnon.
The program, which began in 1998, emphasizes that celebratory gunfire is not acceptable. “If you do it – engage in it – you will be arrested,” says Chief Craig.
Antidotal evidence shows that gunfire has deceased in the city as the old year gives way to the new year.
Al Allen is the owner of Double Action shooting center in Madison Heights and he says shooting a gun in the air is just plain dangerous. “When you fire a projectile, if you say it travels at a thousand feet per-second – it will come down at 90 percent of it’s velocity. So if it goes up at a thousand, it’s coming down at nine hundred.”
Police chief Craig says, “this is an opportunity to change this whole ridiculous business of celebratory gunfire.”