Patrols make Detroit city of angels
Detroit — Angels’ Night patrols kicked off Wednesday night with crews of volunteers fanning out across neighborhoods, zealously watching the vacant lots and abandoned buildings in a bid to stop fires and arsonists.
Mayor Mike Duggan helped kick off the three-day patrols at the Butzel Family Center on the east side, joining an estimated 3,500 volunteers across the city, spokesman John Roach said.
That figure was higher than last year, when nearly 2,000 committed to patrol, Roach said.
At Butzel, executive director Cecilia Walker estimated more than 250 volunteers had come through to patrol Wednesday night. No major incidents were reported by 10 p.m.
“It’s a good sign,” she said. “People know we’re watching.”
Among those on patrol was Greg Holman, 30, who lives nearby. He and a friend from another neighborhood stopped at the center for bottled water and a portable revolving emergency light to attach to the Ford Escape in which they were canvassing a broad swath of the east side.
“It’s getting over the negative stigma of the night and turning it into a positive,” he said.
Phyllis Champion, a first-time volunteer, was happy to don an orange Angels’ Night T-shirt and distribute maps at Butzel for patrolers eager to head far and wide.
“To see so many helpful people in one place is really nice,” she said.
Detroiters not on active patrol are asked to turn on their porch lights. Residents are also being asked to “adopt” a vacant home or building in their area.
The city has also imposed a curfew for juveniles younger than 18. It is unlawful for juveniles to be on city streets, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, from 6 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday.
The city’s Fire Department confirmed it battled numerous blazes Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
“Everybody was busy,” Senior Chief James Houseworth said. “I can’t tell you how many, but there were quite a few fires. And there were quite a few people out there taking pictures.”
Reported fires on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning included a house, high-rise apartment and three abandoned homes. One fire, a commercial building that housed the Delray Cafe, burned to the ground, fire officials said.
In 2013, there were 32 fires on Oct. 29, 36 on Oct. 30 and 27 on Oct. 31.
To volunteer for Angels’ Night, call (313) 224-4415.