Homicides, rapes, burglaries down in Detroit in 2015

James David Dickson, and Candice Williams

Detroit — Major violent crimes were down in 2015 in Michigan’s most populous city, according to figures by the city of Detroit.

“Though we had a slight decrease in homicides and non-fatal shootings, we still have work to do,” Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said. “We’re looking for a better year this year with more data-driven crime strategies and more proactive policing.”

Although crime is down, residents can’t feel it, said Toni McIlwain, founder of nonprofit Ravendale Community Inc., which she operated on the city’s east side for 32 years.

“Yes, it may be down, but if you talk to enough people they can’t see it,” she said. “You can’t feel that crime is down. Even if you see it written in the paper — 10 less than last year. They don’t feel it is 10 less. They feel the pain that the crime is still there and it seems to be more vicious.”

Rapes were down 17 percent compared with 2014 and 24 percent from 2013, which is when Police Chief James Craig came to town. Robberies were down 18 percent compared with 2014, and 35 percent from 2013. Violent crime statistics were down across the board, and fell 7 percent from 2014 and 11 percent compared to 2013.

Property crimes were also down 8 percent from last year and 21 percent from 2013, according to the city’s data. Only larcenies were up — 4 percent — compared to 2014, though the 15,920 larcenies were still 15 percent lower than in 2013.

Burglaries and auto thefts were down, too.

The 9,027 burglaries in Detroit were 15 percent less than the city saw in 2014, and 30 percent less than 2013. The 7,938 auto thefts in Detroit in 2015 were 23 percent less than in 2014 and down 35 percent from 2013.

Detroit also saw a slight decrease in its homicide statistics in 2015, and might have seen a major decrease if December hadn’t been so bloody.

There were 295 homicides in Detroit last year, an average of just less than 25 per month. December, though, saw 38.

Only three other months, March (27), August and September (29 each), had more than 25 homicides, while five months — February (18), April (17), July (20), October (20) and November (17) had 20 homicides or less.

Those figures are much lower than the 686 homicides Detroit saw in 1987, but the city had a much bigger population, still north of 1 million people, back then. According to the most recent census estimate, Detroit’s population is about 680,000.

But 295 homicides still represents a drop of 24 percent since 2012.

According to 2014 and 2015 homicide statistics, the first six months of the year are generally more bloody than the second half. While January through June saw an 11 percent spike in homicides relative to the same time period in 2014, July through December saw a 13 percent drop compared to that time period in 2014.

At the end of the day, it came out to a 1 percent drop overall vs. 2014. Nonfatal shootings were down 2 percent vs. 2014.

On the city’s west side, Detroit resident Thomas Wilson Jr. said crime is still too high, but believes it will continue to decrease each year.

“I’m an eternal optimist,” he said. “Detroit is going to be OK.”

Wilson, a past president with the Northwest District Police Community Relations Organization, said he’s in support of the work Craig is doing with the police department.

He said focus needs to be put on decreasing the drug trade in the city.

“Once we kick it down, I think you’ll see the shootings go down,” he said.


Staff Writer George Hunter contributed.