Detroit is a city with a rich history, but the present and future of Detroit depend on creating a safe space where people can live, work and invest.
Detroit One is a new law enforcement and community initiative designed to achieve a thriving city. In 2012, Detroit experienced 387 homicides, more than one a day, a total that is simply intolerable. In response, law enforcement officials met with community leaders to discuss strategies that have worked in other cities.
The result of these discussions is Detroit One, a program based on a model that has been successful in Washington, D.C., where homicide statistics have dropped from a high of 479 in the 1990s to 88 last year. While 88 homicides is still 88 too many, the reduction is significant. The goal of Detroit One is to reduce gun violence in Detroit by 25 percent or more.
As its name suggests, Detroit One takes a unified approach to reducing violence. One key piece of the strategy is information sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Participating agencies include the Detroit Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office, among others. These agencies are sharing information about the “worst of the worst” offenders to ensure that law enforcement officers and agents are using their resources to address the most serious perpetrators of violent crime.
Another component of the strategy is its geographic scope. Law enforcement agencies are utilizing the Detroit Police Department’s district structure to investigate crime throughout the entire city. Teams comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement are assigned to each district. Regular meetings at the district level inform officers and agents of the leads and tips they need to identify and arrest the area’s most dangerous trigger pullers.
The third component of the strategy is a community prosecutor approach. Attorneys are assigned to each police district so that they can develop relationships with the officers and agents assigned to the district and become familiar with crimes occurring in particular neighborhoods. The prosecutor provides a known point of contact for the law enforcement team in each district, and can provide legal advice, search warrants and arrest warrants at any time of the day or night.
But the centerpiece of the strategy is community involvement. We in law enforcement cannot solve our violent crime problem alone. We need our citizens to report to police when they are victims or witnesses to crime. We must overcome the “no snitch” mentality so that we can identify individuals who commit violent crimes. Our partners include the faith community as well as the NAACP, Youthvoice and Arise Detroit, among others. Each of our citizens has the power to stand up, speak up and save a life.
We understand that lack of trust and fear can create obstacles to reporting crime. We hope to overcome those obstacles. First, we are conducting outreach in our community to try to build community trust. If people believe that the criminal justice system is fair, we believe that they will be more likely to cooperate with law enforcement. Second, we seek to protect the safety of citizens who report crimes to police. We have some limited funds available to pay for travel, housing and security systems for witnesses and victims to remove them from harm’s way. Third, we are partnering with Crime Stoppers to offer rewards for tips in certain serious cases. We also hope that our community partners can help us vocalize the outrage we all feel when violence occurs. We all need to stand up to crime to make a difference.
No strategy will ever end all violence, but we in law enforcement are determined to do all we can to reduce violence in Detroit. If we can create the safe neighborhoods that we all desire, then the next chapter of Detroit’s history will be a story of prosperity and success.
Barbara L. McQuade
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Michigan