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Detroit police commissioner, community activist, dies

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Martin Jones, vice-chairman of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, and a longtime community activist who was hospitalized in 1999 after saving a nine-year-old boy from a pit bull attack, died Thursday.

Jones, who was appointed to the police board by Mayor Mike Duggan in July 2020, and then elected for a one-year term in July 2021, was 58. The cause of death was unknown Thursday, board officials said.

Martin Jones, vice-chair of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners.

Jones also served as spokesman for Detroit 300, a citizen group that helps police search for wanted criminals and passes out flyers about unsolved crimes. Jones appeared at a Nov. 29 press conference in which police officials credited community tips with the arrests of two men who are suspected of raping a 63-year-old woman.

"Many knew him as a ferocious advocate and activist for safe streets and neighborhoods," board chairman The Rev. Jim Holley said in a statement. "As a leader in Detroit 300, he often was among the first to knock on doors or approach people for information to stop crime or to help police find those suspected of committing crimes.

"He never wanted anyone to be a victim of crime, and his work in the community reflected his deep value for getting justice for victims," Holley said. 

Jones graduated from Denby High School in 1981 and worked for years in real estate.

In 1999, DARE recognized Jones for saving a nine-year-old boy from a pit bull attack. He recalled the incident, in which he and the boy were hospitalized with multiple dog bites, in a 2019 Detroit News story.

"It was like they were playing with a rag doll," said Jones of the pit bulls. "I still have trouble sometimes even talking about that."

In 2018, the City Council honored Jones with a Spirit of Detroit award for helping a 16-year-old find his way home.

"Police Commissioner Jones had a passion for service and a commitment to leaving behind something better," Detroit Police Chief James White said in a statement. "While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. This is a deep loss to the city. My thoughts are with his loved ones during this time."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN