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Detroit officials announce end to Angels' Night patrols

Mayor, police chief want to give Halloween back to kids

DETROIT – The city of Detroit is ending the Angels' Night patrols after three straight years of what officials are calling normal activity. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and Police Chief James Craig were joined by community volunteers Wednesday morning to discuss the results of the 2017 Angels' Night volunteer effort and to announce the plan to end the effort. Other participants included the Department of Neighborhood representatives and sponsors. 

Angels' Night patrols were created to fight back violence and arson during the three-day period of Oct. 29-31 in Detroit. The mayor and police chief called the effort successful and said the three days now will be treated like any other. 

Craig and Duggan emphasized a new focus on children's activities centered around Halloween. They want to hand the holiday back to kids and families. 

"I think the image of Detroit has been steadily changing," Duggan said. “During the three-day Angels’ Night period of 2015, Detroit saw the lowest number of fires in 20 years. Since then, the numbers have remained low and are similar to the number of fires we experience on an average night. After yet another quiet year, it’s clear this is the time to give Halloween back to our children. From now on Halloween in Detroit isn’t going to be about fear, it’s going to be about fun. And not only that, it’s going to last for three days.  I’d like to thank the thousands of Detroiters who volunteered over the years to keep our city safe and now it’s time to watch our kids play not patrol.” 

Duggan said if the current trend continues then fires in the city of Detroit could be down by 50 percent next year. 

Chief Craig said peace on Angels' Night has to be credited to the community. He said parents and families pulling together and getting involved in the effort helped with the change. 

"It's a collective effort," Craig said. "This is not the same city."

The fire commissioner credited blight removal for a reduction in arson. 

"When you remove that fuel for arson, you remove that from the equation," said Fire Commissioner Jones. "Quite frankly, there just isn’t the fire activity anymore to justify this kind of mass mobilization. While they haven’t had to put out as many fires, our firefighters have really been getting into the spirit of the Halloween activities.”

Jones said he made the recommendation based on what he has seen in the firehouses and on the streets. 

Details from the Mayor's Office: 

This year’s results mark the third consecutive Angels’ night campaign where the city saw fewer than 60 fires in total during the three-day period. Prior to 2015, numbers hovered near 100 fires, still a far cry from the 354 in 1994 and more than 800 seen regularly in the 1980s.  During the entire three-day campaign, DFD responded to 54 total fires compared to 59 last year.  A breakdown of the first two nights of the Angels’ Night patrol, along with historical numbers, is below.

Steady, sustained decline in fires

The work of community volunteers has continued to drive down the number of structure fires to a level comparable to any average day in Detroit.  In the 1980s, the city experienced hundreds of arsons during the pre-Halloween period, with more than 800 in 1984.  With few exceptions since then, the number of fires has continued to steadily decrease, thanks to strong community volunteerism and organization: 
 
YEAR                     3-DAY FIRES
1984                       810
1994                       354
2010                       169 
2011                       94 
2012                       93 
2013                       95 
2014                       97 
2015                       52 
2016                       59
2017                       54

Fewer vacant houses = 37% fewer structure fires

Since 2014, the city of Detroit also has seen a 37% reduction in its number of structure fires each year.  A major factor has been the city’s aggressive blight removal program, which has resulted in the demolition of nearly 13,000 vacant buildings.  Under the Land Bank auction and other programs, more than 3,000 structurally sound vacant houses in the city have been or are being renovated and reoccupied. 
 
YEAR                     ANNUAL STRUCTURE FIRES
2014                       3748
2015                       3211
2016                       2893
2017                       2346 (YTD)

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