Detroit police refute Green Light claims

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit police officials are pushing back on a claim that they ignore city businesses that haven’t signed up for Project Green Light.

In response to recent media reports about the Green Light program, including a Jan 23 Detroit News story in which non-participating gas station owners said they weren’t getting timely response to 911 calls, police officials looked up dispatch audio and response times, and said the claims were not true.

Some business owners and employees that haven’t signed up for Green Light say they feel they’re being treated like secondary citizens because the city promises participating businesses Priority 1 status.

Police insist that’s not true.

The manager of a Marathon gas station in northwest Detroit told The News that a police dispatcher informed him police hadn’t quickly responded to his call reporting that an irate customer was knocking items off his shelves because he wasn’t part of the Green Light program.

Lt. Jamar Rickett of the Communications Operations unit said there’s no evidence of that alleged statement in dispatch audio reviewed from Dec. 1 to Jan. 25. He added police responded in 17 minutes to a Dec. 23 call from the station reporting a customer was knocking items off the shelves.

“There were 38 calls to service to that station from Dec. 1 to Jan. 25,” Rickett said. “That location is getting better response times than some Green Light locations.”

At least 10 of those calls were “special attention” runs, which are officer-initiated wellness checks, Assistant Chief James White said.

“At least 10 times, officers stopped into the station just to check,” White said. “It’s fair to say if you’re a Green Light location, you’ll get measurable attention, but to say non-Green Light businesses don’t get attention is not a fair statement.”

Sadek Kaid, manager of the Marathon station, did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

Under Project Green Light, businesses pay between $4,000 and $6,000 to have high-definition cameras, lights and signage installed, along with a monthly fee of up to $150 for cloud-based video storage.

Police and civilians monitor the camera feeds at the Real Time Crime Center.

But White told the Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday that dispatchers stress “life over property.”

“If two businesses call 911, and one is a life crime and the other is a property crime, the priority is always given to the life crime,” White said. “With Green Light, we do have access to the video cameras, so the response is more pinpointed.”

In a separate instance, an employee of another non-Green Light Marathon station on the city’s west side told a television station that police took three hours to respond to a report of a man with a knife.

But the Jan. 5 call was not for a crime in progress, Rickett said; it was a call to “investigate a person,” which is a Priority 3 run. Police responded to the call in 47:55, he said. The caller told the dispatcher that the same man had wielded a knife earlier, Rickett said.

“There was an earlier call (on Dec. 12) to that area that was a crime in progress: Someone called and said someone pulled a knife at the gas station,” Rickett said. “They said the suspect was still at the scene. We responded to that run in 6:52.”

White said police and dispatchers don’t ignore non-Green Light businesses.

“Dispatchers have autonomy to prioritize runs,” he said. “They’re supposed to look at the human element of each call.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN