Detroit starts recruitment drive for Angels' Night volunteers
Detroit — City, community and business leaders kicked off Detroit's annual Angels' Night campaign Friday.
They're looking for a few good men — and women — to volunteer to patrol the city for arsonists and other criminals during the three days around Halloween.
"Each year, we have seen the fires decrease," said Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. "We're not going to have any this year because you guys are going to keep our streets safe."
Jones made the remarks during a 12:15 p.m. news conference at Hope Park, next to the Crowell Recreation Center on Lahser Road near West McNichols Road on the city's west side.
She was joined by councilman James Tate, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and other community officials.
Stephanie Young, manager of District One in the city's Department of Neighborhoods, said the campaign had 6,000 volunteers last year and hope to match that number this year.
She said volunteers can drive or walk on patrol or they can even help just by keeping watch from their front porches.
Keith Johnson, 45, and a lifelong Detroiter, said he volunteers every year because it's a way for him to help his community. He encourages others to join him.
"I'm trying to bring the city back," he said. "I'm a homeowner and I want to do something to give back."
Craig reminded residents there will be a curfew in effect for all residents under the age of 17 from 6 p.m. Oct. 29 to 6 a.m. on Oct. 30 and from 6 p.m. Oct. 30 to 6 a.m. Oct. 31. Minors who violate curfew will be ticketed and held until parents or guardians can pick them up. Parents and guardians may also be ticketed.
The deputy fire commissioner also reminded residents there is an ordinance that restricts adults 18 years-old and older from dispensing gasoline into portable containers between midnight Oct. 27 and 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31. except for emergencies
Officials also announced the city has expanded activities on Halloween for children at all police precincts, several fire stations, recreation centers and parks.
For example, Trunk-or-treat events are planned for each of the city's 11 police precincts and three fire stations on Halloween. There will also be a haunted park at Varier Park, 15639 Thatcher near West Outer Drive and West McNichols Road, and a Halloween Extravaganza at Rouge Park's Brennan Pool. Details will be announced later this month.
Traditionally known as Devil's Night, the night before Halloween was associated with youths pulling pranks and general mischief.
But from the 1970s through the 1990s, the night took a darker turn in Detroit, where Oct. 30 became more known for vandalism and arson. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the city saw between 500 and 800 arsons on Devil's Night.
After fires ravaged the city on Devil's Night in 1994, then-mayor Dennis Archer launched the Angels’ Night campaign, calling on stepped-up police patrols, setting a curfew and recruiting thousands of volunteers.
Last year, the city had only 40 fires on the first two days of the Angels' Night campaign. In 2015, there were 52 fires from Oct. 29-31 and only 23 of them were considered suspicious.
"We've changed the whole mentality of Devil's Night," council President Jones said. "It's Angels' Night now."
To volunteer for Angels' Night, call (313) 224-4415 or log on to www.angelsnight.org.