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Officials, law enforcement laud Detroit crime drops

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The drop in crime in Detroit in 2017 owed not only to initiatives such as Operation Ceasefire and technology such as Project Green Light, but also to collaboration between officials at the city, state and federal level, officials said.

The press conference reviewing Detroit’s 2017 crime figures was held at the Detroit Police Department’s 8th precinct, on McNichols east of Lahser. The press conference was held at the precinct not only because it’s the newest, but because of the 37 percent drop in homicides in the 8th precinct since Operation Ceasefire was introduced there last year, said Police Chief James Craig.

Detroit police vehicle

“It wasn’t a miracle, but a lot of good people working together,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.

“We’re certainly not waving the flag of success, but there’s steady progress, absolutely,” Craig said of a year in which homicides fell 12 percent down to 267, the lowest tally since the 214 in 1966.

But Detroit was a much larger city back then, with a population of 1.5 million, more than double the 672,000 residents Detroit had last year. 

Duggan and Craig both thanked a plethora of enforcement partners — FBI, ATF, Michigan State Police, the Michigan Department of Corrections, the U.S. Marshals Service, Wayne State Police, and more — and community groups, such as Detroit 300, and educational and job training programs such as Flip the Script for providing the resources that aided in the declining numbers.

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office filing charges against gang networks, to the Marshals Service help bringing in fugitives, to the Corrections department rounding up targets for “call-in” sessions under Operation Ceasefire, to the alternatives to gang life offered by Flip the Script, teamwork was deemed the secret sauce of Detroit’s approach to violent crime.

“We cannot do it alone,” Craig said. “These numbers are not by accident.”

For instance, the U.S. Attorney’s office dropped 180 indictments on some 10 gangs in 2017. 

“This is not a cyclical drop, it’s how we do things now,” said Acting US Attorney Dan Lemisch. “There are no egos, no turf wars.”

Operation Ceasefire debuted in the 5th and 9th precincts in August 2015, and expanded to the 6th, 8th and 12th precincts in June 2016.

Compared to 2015, Ceasefire precincts saw 30 fewer homicides in 2017, a 19 percent drop, police said. Non-Ceasefire precincts saw homicides go up four percent.

The department plans to expand Ceasefire citywide in 2018.

Project Green Light, a surveillance program that monitors Detroit businesses that opt in, grew by 144 locations to 231 overall by year’s end. Green Light locations saw an 11 percent drop in violent crime within 350 feet, compared to 2016. Some in city government hope to eventually force Detroit businesses that are open past 10 p.m. to participate in Green Light.