Detroit police chief answers critic on crime report

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit – — Recent FBI statistics that revealed the city as the most violent in the nation are only “part of the story,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday at a meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.

The chief also answered board chairman Willie Bell, who told The Detroit News after the crime statistics were released: “People will not move into the city unless you can address this.”

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, showed Detroit in 2013 had a homicide rate of 45 per 100,000 residents, highest in the U.S. The city’s violent crime rate, 2,072.33 per 100,000, also was tops in the U.S.

But Craig, speaking to a packed audience during a police board meeting at the Boys and Girls Club of America on Tireman, said crime this year has fallen sharply, after it dropped significantly in 2013.

“In 2014, we set a goal of a 10 percent reduction in overall crime,” Craig said. “We’re now sitting on a 19 percent reduction.”

Regarding the 255 homicides to-date, a 15 percent reduction from last year, Craig said: “We’re poised to have the lowest number in 40 years.”

Craig said robberies are down 24 percent this year, with carjackings down 31 percent.

“If we’re going to tell the story, let’s not just tell part of the story; let’s tell the whole story,” Craig said after referencing Bell’s quotes Tuesday in The Detroit News. “People want to come back to Detroit.”

Bell, a longtime Detroit police officer, replied: “The reality is, we have a city where there’s crime. I live in a neighborhood; I attend meetings. Just the other night, I heard people tell me: ‘I’ve had enough; I’m gone.’ Regardless of the stats, that’s the reality.”

Bell added: “The image is changing somewhat.”

Joanne Germer, who lives on the west side, told the police board: “I don’t feel safer on my block. The guy across the street from me was injured in Iraq; he came home from his monthly active duty and his car was stolen.”

Resident Garland Hardeman, who knew Craig during his time as a Los Angeles police officer, countered: “I’m very happy with the job the chief is doing. I came back to Detroit from L.A. I miss the warm weather and the palm trees, but I’m here to stay.”

Earlier Thursday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told the board that after testing 1,600 of more than 11,000 untested rape kits discovered in 2009, prosecutors have identified 198 serial rapists, who went on to rape others in 27 states. They’ve also closed 151 investigations.

“It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a Detroit issue,” Worthy said. “Rapists do not stop at 8 Mile Road.”


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Christine MacDonald contributed.