Detroit Crime: Perception vs. Reality

Police chief James Cra_optThere are many ways to interpret crime results in Detroit. Violent crime, for instance, is said to have dropped significantly in 2014, and the statistics around armed robbery have also gone down from 2,836 in 2013 to 1,879 last year.
At the same time, the FBI crime statistics indicated that Detroit leads the nation in murder rate for cities that have a population of 100,000 or more. That means Detroit is still among the five top most dangerous cities in the nation.
Last year I sat down with Detroit Police Chief James Craig to discuss crime reducing and the perception of crime increasing.
“It’s nice for me to recite statistics, to say we are reducing crime 10 percent. But in my view, my experience, a better gage is, do you feel safer? Because I’m out and about in the community, I talk to people. They have said to me (across the board people who live in the city and in the suburbs) they see change. To me that’s a better gage than sitting here giving you statistics. Statistics are important, kind of a guide because if we don’t know where we are, how do we know where we are going? There is no secret that we adopted the COMSTAT model, same used in New York, Los Angeles.”
Regarding the ideal police department in Detroit, Craig said, “You’re seeing it now. We haven’t gotten there yet. When you look at our crime reduction, here we are today 61 percent reduction in homicide. Last year at this time, Detroit had 20 homicides and we are right now sitting at 11. That’s dramatic. Violent crime in the city is down 27 percent. Property crime is down 38 percent. In overall crime there is a 35 percent reduction.This is not an accident and you have people saying, ‘I do feel safer.’ In fact, the areas that we have targeted for enforcement, that’s just not a random response. It was very strategic based on the data, areas recognized as some of the most violent zip codes in America.”
Because of the rash of robberies in the city, Craig noted that what is needed in Detroit are more guns for people to protect themselves. His comments followed a string of strong reactions, including condemnations, saying the chief of police should not be encouraging people to take up arms.
In my interview, Craig sought to explain what he meant about citizens arming themselves with guns in a city where some residents have been robbed in broad daylight.
“What I did say is good Detroiters, good Americans who are armed and most importantly responsible can have an effect on a daily violence. And so clearly not just what James Craig believes but research supports that statement. The Department of Justice said good citizens who are armed tend to be the biggest deterrent to violent crime. We know it here in Detroit,” Craig said. “What I have seen in my time here is that we’ve arrested suspects who wear body armor. And why do they wear body armor? Because there is a fear of being shot, not by police but by citizens that they attempt to rob. That’s one issue. The second issue is sometimes suspects, when they confront a person, they make them disrobe to determine whether or not they are armed.”

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