DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s Angels’ Night anti-arson campaign is no more.
Detroit officials say annual three-day crime-fighting effort that began three decades ago has succeeded in curbing fires around Halloween and will be replaced by a three-day community celebration.
The announcement from Mayor Mike Duggan and police and fire officials came Wednesday after they said only 54 fires were reported in the three-day Angels’ Night period that ended Tuesday night. Of those, 25 were considered suspicious.
Duggan says those numbers are similar to an average night, so now is the time to give Halloween back to the kids.
“We want those (Angels’ Night) activities to continue,” the mayor said, “but we want them, instead of being patrolling, let’s organize playing for children. Let’s create lots of parks, lots of rec centers, lots of areas where children can celebrate Halloween safely.”
The day before Halloween has historically been a time of destructive mischief in Detroit. Vacant houses began to be torched in the 1980s, and the city had more than 800 fires during the Halloween period in 1984. The volunteer campaign, in which thousands of people patrolled the streets and neighborhoods, started more than 20 years ago after 350 fires were set.
Community events and patrols across the city are credited with making the change.
Among them has been Bishop Edgar Vann who says has been a hard-fought effort.
“I guess when you’re in a battle and you’re fighting an enemy, you have to know when you’ve won,” Vann said. “I think that what the mayor has recognized, and our chief and our commissioner and all of us here that work every day and night for this city to be safe, is that this is a battle that we’ve won.”
An estimated 6,000 volunteers helped put on this year’s campaign, which — along with community patrols — also included Halloween activities for kids.