Here's how Detroit police plan to reduce violent crime this summer

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — With warm weather approaching, Detroit Police have released a “Community Safety Strategy” for 2022 that will focus on increasing the presence of officers in neighborhoods, quashing raucous parties, weeding out bad cops and addressing blight.

The 244-page, five-point plan aims to reduce violent crime by 10%, identify high-risk police officers, focus on citizen complaints and address quality-of-life issues, Detroit Police Chief James White said in a statement.

Shortly after White took over as chief in June of last year, he implemented a similar plan targeting the city's "party atmosphere" — loud music, vehicles blocking streets and hundreds of people under the influence of alcohol and drugs gathering without permits — in parks and neighborhoods that often led to shootings.

This year's strategy continues focusing on large gatherings and enforcing noise ordinances, along with new elements, White said.

Detroit Police Chief James White

"The Department’s plan for 2022 builds on many of the principles contained in the Department’s 5-Point Plan, with many improvements," White wrote in the introduction to the plan, which includes historical crime numbers and police response data for each precinct, along with proposed solutions to problems that are tailored to each area.

The plan's five focal points are crowd management and code enforcement; police presence; noise enforcement; traffic enforcement; and community engagement.

A focus on identifying problem police officers has been added to this year's crime strategy.

"High risk members identified will be closely monitored utilizing the body worn camera system and periodic on-scene observation of the officer’s interaction with the public," the strategy says.

"The review of positive and/or negative encounters will be reviewed with the member with reinforcement or corrective discussions designed to mentor and guide the member with teachable moments when applicable."

White said other changes from last year will include expanding the use of Ceasefire Detroit, a partnership between Detroit Police and the U.S. Department of Justice that works with gang members, providing them with job training and other services. 

The police department also "will continue its work toward expanding Project Greenlight and to budget for additional 'virtual patrol officers,'" White said, referring to the civilian employees who monitor the real-time video feeds from the 799 businesses and other locations that subscribe to the city's Greenlight service.

Other changes this year will be to employ metal detectors "to help deter people from bringing illegal weapons into large venues," and to integrate the DPD Rewards TV program, an initiative announced in February in conjunction with Crime Stoppers of Michigan which broadcasts information about crimes and requests viewers to provide anonymous tips.

In the plan, White referenced the "Broken Windows" theory of policing: That crime flourishes in blighted areas.

"There is an association between urban blight and crime, including violent crime," White said. "We want to continue reducing violent crime in neighborhoods by closely monitoring vacant lots and abandoned or neglected buildings."

As of Wednesday, there were 15% fewer homicides year-to-date than during the same period in 2021, with a 21% reduction in nonfatal shootings, according to Detroit Police data. 

Bernice Smith, 89, a resident of the New Center district, said she was happy about White's plan to address quality-of-life issues last year and said the strategy appears to have worked.

"You see more officers around and crime is down," she said. "I think the drag racing has gone down, too, but maybe that's because it's been cold. Who knows if that mess will start back up again when summer comes."

Drag racing is referenced 40 times in the DPD strategy, and reducing the illegal races is listed as a priority in all 11 police precincts. 

The plan lays out different priorities in each precinct. In the 2nd Precinct, which covers the west side, one of the strategies is to deploy one undercover sting operation per month to reduce prostitution, which is a problem in several areas of the precinct.

In the 7th Precinct on the east side, one goal is "Proactive Enforcement in the Mack & Mount Elliott Areas," while in the 8th Precinct the strategy calls for increasing officer presence in strip malls and retail areas with a goal of "reduction of robberies and other crimes in high pedestrian traffic areas."

The strategy for the 9th Precinct on the city's east side will focus on gang reduction. The 48205 zip code, which encompasses the precinct and includes the high-crime Red Zone, is known for high gang activity.

Reducing prostitution in the Chalmers and Harper corridor is another listed goal in the 9th Precinct.

In the 10th Precinct on the city's west side, precinct officers will "work with the Counter-Terrorism Threat Analysis Team to identify parties and gatherings that may drain Precinct resources in order to properly prepare for the event," the document says.

Smith said she was glad to hear that the department has such a detailed plan to address crime, but added no plan can be successful unless citizens cooperate.

"We have to control ourselves," she said. "When you go to a party, you're supposed to have a good time, not get so drunk you want to start fighting or pull out a gun and shoot someone. If we don't control ourselves, the police can't save us."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN