In Detroit, street gangs are responsible for much of the violent crime that wreaks havoc in our neighborhoods. The Detroit One partnership has focused its efforts on dismantling violent street gangs so that we can restore public safety to our community.
Detroit One is a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement and the community to reduce violence in Detroit through enforcement and prevention. Recent indictments include charges against the Seven Mile Bloods, Latin Counts, Related Through Money, Bounty Hunter Bloods, Vice Lords, Band Crew, Rollin’ 60 Crips and other gangs that operate in Detroit. Charges include armed robberies, carjacking, drug trafficking, weapons offenses, assault and murder.
As alleged in the indictments, some gang members use social media to threaten rival gangs. The gang names, individual nicknames and social media postings seem juvenile and would be laughable if they weren’t so deadly.
The Detroit One partners are using some of the traditional organized crime tools, such as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), to combat gang violence. We seek to use charges that carry lengthy sentences selectively against the most violent offenders. Since Detroit One began in 2013, we have seen a 24 percent reduction in homicide in Detroit.
And while some violent offenders simply need to be removed from our community, we are also working with gang members to leave gang life. Through an intervention program called “Ceasefire,” Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, other partners and I participate in call-ins with gang members and their families. We explain the consequences of additional criminal activity and provide access to social services ranging from job placement and training, drug treatment, transportation and other services necessary to succeeding as a citizen. We promise them that continued criminal activity will lead to swift and sure prosecution with lengthy sentences. We also promise them that if they want to leave gang life, we will give them help. Ceasefire has already resulted in success stories, including one young man who has enrolled in college.
An even better strategy than persuading gang members to leave gang life is to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place. Detroit One law enforcement partners recognize that long-term solutions require prevention work. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offers its Gang Resistance Education And Training (“GREAT”) program in many local schools. The Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative provides summer jobs for young people, among other things. Other law enforcement partners visit schools and provide mentoring for students.
Our Detroit One Community partners are also doing excellent work to reduce violence and bullying through a variety of programs, such as Pastor Ovella Andrea’s Code 22, in which she calls on the community and works with schools for a day of peace on the 22nd day of each month. Many other groups are working on reducing violence as well.
Improving public safety from gang violence requires a multi-faceted approach, addressing enforcement and prevention. We are making progress, and if we want the kind of public safety that we all deserve, then we must remember that we are all in this together. We are Detroit One.
Barbara L. McQuade
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Michigan