Forum Sparks Talk of State Crackdown on Organized Crime

Public safety is the root from which most of Detroit’s issues stem. In order to fix the budget problems, Detroit needs a bigger tax base. But crime rates have been a major setback for the city’s population growth.

At a Wayne State forum on crime last week, law enforcement officials gathered to share ideas on how to curb Detroit’s violent crimes. While there were mixed opinions on the best approach in tackling the city’s continued wave of homicides, one thing was clear. “We’ve got to do something,” Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said at the forum about escalating violent crime in the city.

The forum was in response to a Detroit Police Department (DPD) report that showed a rise in murders in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. One of the major takeaways from the forum, according to Godbee, was a strengthened his resolve seek tougher punishments for organized crime. The keynote speaker at the forum was William J. Bratton, the former Los Angeles Police Chief who used effective measures to half the number of homicides in his city.

“We saw the deduction of homicides from 650 a year to 300 and we did that with a police force that’s roughly commensurate with the size of the police force here in Detroit,” Bratton said at the forum, noting that partnerships with organizations and community members paired with enhanced sentencing helped reduce crime in L.A. But Godbee, while noting Bratton’s achievements, said he didn’t think that the L.A. police force should be compared to Detroit’s. “He gets more cops,” Godbee said of Bratton. “I haven’t had that experience.”

One thing Godbee and Bratton agree on is that the state should enhance punishment for gang-related crimes. Godbee said he has been and will continue to seek help from lawmakers to up sentencing for gang crimes. “We need every enhancement we can get,” Godbee said at the forum. “I know Governor Snyder is committed to it, Mayor Bing is committed to it and we in law enforcement are committed to that. We need additional tools to help us.”

The two-day forum, titled “City Under Siege: A University Forum on the Crime Crisis in Detroit”, attracted hundreds of people interested in solving Detroit’s Crime problems. Speakers included Bratton, Godbee and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

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