Last month, Mayor Bing, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and other law enforcement and community leaders announced a collaborative initiative among law enforcement agencies, residents and community leaders to reduce violent crimes in the city. The program is called Detroit One.
The overall goal is to reduce gun-related violent crimes by 25 percent this year.
Among those who attended the announcement were members of the Detroit Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.
“Anything that is going to deal with crime in neighborhoods, we are very happy to hear about,” said Mary McKissic, past president of the association. “But the main thing we need is good communication.”
In presenting the Detroit One program to the community, Bing said they were bringing together a lot of information and a lot of resources together to attack the “worst of worst.”
During the presentation to the community, McQuade said 387 murders in the city is intolerable.
“This program is called Detroit One because it is clear when discussing public safety, that we’re all in this together,” she said, adding that they need everyone to work on this problem together.
McQuade also said she thinks every day of the children of Detroit who never get a chance to achieve their dreams because they’re gunned down.
She also spoke about people being afraid to fill up at gas stations.
“As a citizen, as U.S. Attorney and as a mother, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” she said.
The issue of danger at gas stations was also a concern to Anthony Bowens, treasurer of the Detroit Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.
“I hope one day that they talk to the owners of the gas stations, so they can hire some kind of security so people can feel safe,” Bowens said. “We’ve all got to work together.”
Bowens subsequently asked McQuade about the gas stations, and she told him that there have been conversations with small business owners, including gas station owners.
Bowens told her the gas stations need both lighting and security.
As to the overall presentation, Bowens said he was impressed by what he heard.
Resident Braxton Jones, who is with a consultant group called Sociological Solutions, hopes to be able to contract with some of the organizations involved in Detroit One to bring “human capital” to them. He said a lot of organizations receive grants, but the human capital component is kind of weak.
“We’re a 24-hour privatized social service provider,” Jones said. “It entails building relationships and creating solutions for everyday problems, whether it’s drug addiction or illiteracy or kids not going to school.”
They identify problems that keep young people from being good students and developing good job skills.
Jones also said he doesn’t believe in a police state, but thinks it will take real commitment from all leaders for change to happen.
McQuade said Washington D.C. caught the Detroit One partners’ collective eye. She said D.C. went from 479 homicides in the 1990s to 88 last year.
She also said prosecutors from her office will be assigned to police districts, so that they are meeting regularly with officers and agents who know who the worst of the worst offenders are.
“They are on call 24/7 to get search warrants and arrest warrants and provide legal advice,” McQuade said, adding that she’s pleased so many members of the community have stepped up to be part of this.
“We need members of the community to stand up and speak up and save lives,” she said. “We cannot have a ‘no snitch’ community and expect to be successful. If you are a victim of crime, if you are a witness to crime, you need to part of the solution by sharing that information with all of us, so we can do something about it.”
Among the community leaders who addressed the audience regarding Detroit One was Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP. He cited the oft-quoted “It takes a village” proverb, saying that in the “village” of Detroit, law enforcement, the faith-based community, political leadership, nonprofits, citizen patrols, public schools, and everybody else all need to be involved.
“It’s going to take all of us to engage and to deal with this,” Anthony said. “I’m tired of having to go out at night and wonder as I take my trash to the curb, whether I will have peace or ‘should I have a piece?’ I’m tired of children not being able to play.”
Anthony said he used to play touch football in the street, adding that children don’t do that anymore. He also said people used to be able to sit out on their front porches until the wee hours of the morning.
Anthony pointed out that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, first delivered in Detroit.
“That dream should not now be turned into a nightmare,” he said.
Anthony added that if we don’t engage with one another, then all of the construction and all of the development means nothing. He also said he’s glad the press conference was being held in the neighborhood.
“Not in the ’hood,’” he emphasized. “In the neighborhood.”
Anthony said we have to put “neighbor” back into “neighborhood” and that if they can do it in Washington, D.C., we can do it in Detroit.
He also said there isn’t any cavalry coming to rescue us.
“I’m looking at the cavalry,” he told the residents in the audience.