Stephen Grady, Chief of Staff for City Council President Brenda Jones, is not the type to wait until a solution to the rash of block party shootings that have been occurring throughout the summer miraculously lands in his lap.
The only answer to a problem is a solution, and the best answer to a serious problem is a serious solution. Oftentimes, especially in Detroit, those solutions require the pro-active approach – as in you’d better get that ball rolling yourself if you expect anything to happen.
Which is exactly what Grady is doing with his proposal – still in the early stages of formulation – which suggests the reasonable approach of requiring large block parties to get some form of pre-registration from the City. Grady is calling his idea ‘permit lite’.
“What we’re trying to do is to just have a one-page permit that someone in the neighborhood could fill out if they’re going to have a block party or something like that. Some event that’s going to have over 50 people. So for every 50 people we’re saying you should have one secondary employment police officer, which is just $25 an hour. This would be a person who would be on-site, at your party, and who would ensure that you have a peaceful environment. If you’re going to be serving food there, you should have someone who has a food handler’s license.
“So we’re just trying to make sure that we can provide a safe environment for everyone. I also think that if you’re having something at your house, the neighbors on both sides of you should have a signed permit as well, just to show you have the agreement of your neighbors.”
Grady said his idea is in direct response to the recent incidents that occurred when people were shot at block parties and he realized that something had to be done. He has already reached out to the Detroit Police Department to begin conversations about the feasibility of how this might work. He is also talking with his boss, Council President Jones, as well as other council members, to discuss how such an approach could be accomplished legislatively.
Grady admits there has been mixed reaction to his idea that he first floated to the public via Facebook. Although many say they love the idea and think it’s about time, others are concerned that such an approach is an attempt to over-legislate activities. Grady said he understands the concerns of those who are wary of any requirement that might damage the spontaneity of a good time in the neighborhood, but he hopes he can convince them of what he considers the potentially greater – and deadlier – threat of large unmonitored events with just as much potential to attract hoodlums as law-abiding neighborhood folks who only want to relax and enjoy.
Just last week, a 19-year-old man was shot and killed, and two were injured, at yet another party on Detroit’s east side. It was the fourth shooting at a party in five weeks. At another incident three people were shot at a party in Maheras-Gentry Park on the Detroit River. In mid-June, ten people were shot at a party on a west side basketball court near Webb and Dexter. Near month’s end, on June 29, five more people were shot at an east side block party near the intersection of Gratiot and Whithorn. Police said that both times the shootings occurred at parties where hundreds of people had turned out.
“Maybe we’re able to do something right now that can bring peace to the neighborhoods,” said Grady.