Defending Detroit: Become part of the solution
This is your turn to sign up, make a difference in Detroit
In Detroit we shoot people - a lot of people. You can see details of the more than 300 people murdered so far this year in the city - 200 from gunshot wounds. The gun fire starts on New Year's Eve and continues right past Christmas. Over one thousand people have been shot this year already. It averages out to about 3 a night – at least 66 of those gunned down were under 16-years-old.
Most of those shot go to the hospital and it takes a team of doctors to keep them alive. The average cost for a simple shooting is $14,000 and $28,000 for the complicated ones. Very few victims have insurance which means you pay the tab – at least $20 million a year in Detroit.
1 in 3 people shot here die. A lot of the victims are in the 20's and 30's – along with drug dealers, gang bangers there are mothers, fathers, teachers, coaches and kids. Way too many kids are catching bullets and never given a chance to grow up...
Every time someone is killed in Detroit we put a push pin on this map in our newsroom. It helps us report on the trends in local violence. Look at them all spread out in every corner of the city -- from downtown into the neighborhoods...
Cleveland Dunklin is on our board. He was murdered September 30, 2013. The motive? Cleveland told people in a speeding car to slow down near children. They didn’t like that so they gunned him down.
His family doesn’t want Cleveland to become just another murder. They want his face to be the one everybody remembers when we all finally say, "Enough is enough." They are hoping his death inspires us to stand up to street thugs they invited to his funeral to feel pain. That's where we found Cleveland’s sister struggling to say goodbye.
Angelica Dunkin, "He was my only brother...more people are gonna die...he is 23 he should not have died this way."
How do you say goodbye to a brother, a son, a friend who died for no reason at the age of 23?
Perhaps with a funeral full of tear and pleas to stop the violence.
Is this man the answer to Detroit’s prayers? Detroit Police Chief James Craig knows where Detroit ranks when it comes to murders. "We are ranked number one in the country. There is absolutely nothing to be proud of."
It is his job to turn it around. His plan is to do almost everything we have in the past – but start to do it differently. "When my staff comes to me and say 'Look Chief, this is the way that we have always done it.' I say, 'Well that is the problem'"
In his short time on the job he has reassigned officers who wash and gas his car, improved morale by going back to 8 hour work shifts and helped the mantra for cops to become, "Get out of the building and onto the streets."
"This is business. If you are a police officer and you wear this uniform that is what you came on the job to do. If you want to be a clerk there are jobs for you. Maybe you should sit down and rethink your career choice."
Crime numbers are already trending down slightly, but making Detroit a place where we feel safe won’t be easy.
"This has been a problem right now, our clearance rate is hovering around 45 percent I'm not proud of that number."
In Chief Craig’s "NEW DPD", cops work in neighborhoods and know residents by name. Community watch groups thrive. Witnesses come forward and testify. Now when you call 911 the police respond within 5 – not 50 – minutes...
"I'm very satisfied that we are moving in the right direction and there is a lot of commitment and focus on reducing it but we just need to do more. There is no room for that. I'm interested in one thing that we are going to make Detroit a safer city and I need people to share enthusiasm and passion in making a difference.”
The chief says they can drastically reduce violence if we all are willing to be part of the solution. We have set up a sign up sheet. If you sign up you will be hearing from us and/or the police department for specific details in the coming weeks.