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Chief Craig starts new approach against crime

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police Chief James Craig launched a three-pronged, grassroots-based approach to fight crime in the city Monday after a rash of child killings and praised a minister’s efforts to reach out to criminals as an “urban peace treaty.”

“We are committed to fighting crime in our neighborhoods,” Craig said in response to three incidents that involved a 6-month-old, 3-year-old and 4-year-old.

Craig was joined by ministers and anti-crime activists at an afternoon news conference. The pastors called on criminals to stop their attacks.

“You cannot shoot this city up,” said Pastor Maurice Hardwick of Body of Believers Outreach Ministry. “You cannot kill our babies and get away with it. We’re asking you to stand down.

“As a pastor who comes from these streets I’m asking the young men, you know who you are. Brothers, you’re better than this. You don’t have to do this. Settle your disputes calmly with no conflict.”

Craig called the efforts by ministers in the city to reach out to potential criminals an “urban peace treaty,” and Hardwick said individuals in the midst of a conflict can call him to help settle disputes.

“I will meet with both parties,” he said. “We’re asking you to stop the shooting immediately. We can not have another child shot with guns, with bullets through their body and we stand around ... I’m trying to bring peace and be a bridge to help you.”

Craig called his new approach “robust,” saying it worked in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, two cities where Craig worked before he took the top cop job in Detroit.

The first area of the city where the effort will be launched is the 8th Precinct, on either side of Grand River from Greenfield to west of Telegraph, where a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old were killed this year.

Craig said there will be additional enforcement, community empowerment and street advocacy. He said the Detroit 300 Community Action Team anti-violence group is part of the effort, as is the police department’s Crime Reduction Team, churches, police reserves and neighborhood watch programs.

“For the first time, I feel really hopeful because ... it appears to me what Chief Craig is really pushing forward is that they want to partner with us,” said Bishop Daryl Harris, senior pastor of Total Life Christian Ministries. “This is our community. It’s our streets. This is the place where we live.”

The latest shooting involving a child happened about 5 p.m. Saturday when a father was teaching his 4-year-old boy to ride his bike on Monica. The man was shot and killed, police said. His son was injured in the incident near Livernois and Seven Mile.

On Easter morning, 3-year-old A’Naiya Denise Montgomery was killed at about 2 a.m. when men burst into her home on the 16800 block of Riverview on the west side. One of three suspects in the shooting, Paul Kendall Jr., 24, took his life Wednesday in the county jail, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said.

On April 16, 6-month-old Miracle Murray was killed as a 24-year-old man played on the front lawn of the home on Winthrop with two other children and a car with two men drove past and started shooting.

Police perplexed, angry over spate of Detroit shootings

Brenda Hill, of Mothers of Murdered Children, gave a passionate plea to the community during Monday’s news conference. Hill, whose 22-year-old son was fatally shot in 2009, said outrage doesn’t describe how she felt after hearing of the recent shootings.

“My heart is broken,” she said. “We’re not going to sit in our grief. We’re going to stop this.”

Craig said Monday the suspects in these shootings, ranging from ages 16-24, knew or should have known they were putting children in harm’s way.

“Criminals beware,” Craig said. “We are going to be there.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2311