Detroit, federal officials announce summer crime prevention plan

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Following a wave of warm-weather mayhem that included multiple shootings downtown, federal and local law enforcement officials Wednesday announced a "Summer Enhancement Strategy" aimed at reducing violent crime in two of Detroit's most dangerous neighborhoods.

The initiative that will focus on high-crime areas of Detroit's 8th and 9th Precincts was announced during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney's Detroit offices by officials including U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Detroit Police Chief James White.

"This strategy will target some of the most dangerous areas of Detroit," Ison said. "We will federally prosecute carjackings, robberies and gun crimes in these areas. At the same time, we'll reach out and engage with the community to prevent crime from occurring in the first place."

In this file photo from June 6, 2022, U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Police Chief James E. White announce a targeted law enforcement initiative to reduce violent crime in high crime areas of Detroit. Ison, Duggan and White appeared at a press conference to discuss this summer's local and federal partnership to reduce summer crime.

The effort will kick off Monday, Memorial Day, and run through Labor Day, officials said. The strategy was rolled out under the "One Detroit" initiative, a partnership that includes the U.S. Attorney's Office, Detroit Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and church leaders that was announced last month.

"Since Jan. 1, our records show there have been 865 cases of serious assault citywide — homicides, carjackings, armed robberies," Worthy said Wednesday. "We are losing the battle against gun violence which is why this effort is so critically important. This is where collaborations come in. ... I didn't want to be part of another task force, because task forces in name only don't accomplish anything. But this is different. This is a true holistic and global approach that I believe will work."

Under the strategy, Detroit Police with work with federal authorities to focus on four crime "hot spots" in the 8th precinct on Detroit's west side, along with four high-crime areas in the 9th Precinct on the east side. People arrested in those hot spots for violent crimes or firearm violations will be prosecuted in the federal system, which Ison said often carries harsher penalties. FBI agents will accompany Detroit officers to crimes, she said.

As part of the initiative, 200 letters were sent out last week to people on probation, parole or supervised release warning them about the enforcement plan, and also giving them information about the "Peacenics" planned in their areas. Peacenics, which make up the prevention component of the One Detroit initiative, are community events that offer entertainment and resources that include job training, literacy programs and mental health screenings.

"Too often, people in our city go to sleep at night to the sound of gunshots," Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday. "We have never seen this kind of focused attention from the U.S. Attorney's Office like you're seeing here. And the message has two sides: one, if you commit gun crimes in this area you'll feel the full force of the federal law enforcement; but the second component is the Peacenics, because we don't want to lock anybody up. So, this is a chance to take advantage of the good programs, but if you don't you'll be prosecuted."

Detroit Police Chief James White said he feels the program will be successful because it focuses on both crime prevention and enforcement.

"We recognize that not everybody is a criminal, and under this program, folks are going to have an opportunity to make better decisions — but for those who don't, who choose to victimize our community, you'll get our full attention to get you off the street," the chief said.

The 8th Precinct encompasses approximately 15 square miles on the city's west side, bounded by 8 Mile to the north, Greenfield to the east, Telegraph to the west and Fenkell to the south. The 12.5 square-mile 9th Precinct is home to the high-crime 48205 zip code that includes the "Red Zone" that for years was infiltrated with gangs; its borders are 8 Mile to the north, I-94 on the east and south, and Coleman A. Young International Airport to the west.

In 2022, the two precincts led the city in homicides, with 45 killings in the 9th Precinct and 39 in the 8th Precinct. The 153 nonfatal shootings in the 9th Precinct and 123 in the 8th Precinct were also the highest and second-highest in the city last year.

There were 37 carjackings in the 8th Precinct in 2022, the most in the city, while the 28 carjackings in the 9th Precinct were tied for third behind the 2nd Precinct and tied with the 6th Precinct. Many of the incident in the 8th Precinct happen in an area some cops have dubbed "carjack row" — 7 Mile Road between Greenfield and Evergreen.

Michigan House Democrats earlier Wednesday announced proposed legislation that would create a fund to stabilize and supplement public safety efforts in high-crime areas — a solution they say responds to a rise in crime in Michigan's larger cities.

The Public Safety and Violence Prevention Fund would be meted out based on crime data collected by the Michigan State Police, with communities receiving cash based on their share of statewide violent crimes with a cap of 25% of the fund for any one community.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN