Detroit police to ramp up weekend presence, target drag racing under new summer safety plan

City announces approach to address disorderly behavior as people emerge from pandemic

DETROIT – Police are preparing to ramp up their presence and efforts in Detroit this summer in response to a rise in unruly behavior and illegal drag racing.

On Thursday, Interim Detroit Police Chief James White announced a summer crowd control plan that he says will help maintain order, especially on weekends, during a time when many people are emerging from the pandemic and taking to the city. The multi-faceted plan is designed to tame the “party atmosphere” currently present throughout the city, while addressing illegal drag racing and drifting.

More police presence on weekends

According to Chief White, the Detroit Police Department has been authorized for 4,000 additional hours of overtime for weekend crowd control management, and an additional 2,000 hours of overtime each weekend to address illegal drag racing. Officials say officers will be working these overtime hours in addition to those already covering traditional shifts.

Supplemental weekend Detroit police presence will first be focused in a few problem areas throughout the city, and will shift around as necessary, officials said.

Holding people, businesses accountable

During a Thursday morning news conference, White said that people are emerging from the pandemic after being isolated for so long and contributing to a “party atmosphere” throughout the city, gathering and causing disturbances on the streets, in front of residences, at parks and outside bars. To help curb resident complaints, and violence that breaks out at these events, officials say the summer safety plan will focus on holding people and businesses accountable.

Detroit officials said that officers will be enforcing the city’s noise ordinance that prohibits loud noise and music to extend beyond 50 feet from all buildings. White says that individuals who disobey the ordinance will be warned once, and if they do not comply, they will be ticketed.

Police say the noise ordinance also affects drivers, as they are not allowed to play music that can be heard beyond 10 feet from their vehicle.

Detroit businesses will also be under scrutiny this summer. City officials said businesses must cooperate with the laws, especially the noise ordinances, to do their part in maintaining order.

Owners of Detroit parking lots were specifically named during the news conference, as tailgating parties have been “popping up and getting out of control,” officials said. Parking lot owners are reportedly required to prevent loitering and have paid attendants on site if cars are present in the lot.

According to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, some Detroit businesses are playing music outside in defiance of the city noise ordinance, which is attracting young people to gather outside of businesses they can’t actually legally enter, like bars.

Police say they will be enforcing public order crimes, too, such as open container and public intoxication violations.

Crack down on drag racing, drifting

The summer crowd control plan is also focusing heavily on addressing drag racing and drifting in the city, which has been occurring more often this year than in past years, officials said. Police will be ramping up their presence, surveillance and intelligence gathering to prevent these gatherings and punish those involved.

“If you come to Detroit and you drag race or drift, including with ATVs or off-roading vehicles, we will likely come to your house and take your vehicle and prosecute you,” White said.

The interim police chief said the city will not just impound vehicles involved in illegal drag racing and drifting, but will instead seize the vehicles and conduct forfeiture proceedings -- in which the city would then legally own the vehicle.

“These are not just words,” White said. “We are going to do this.”

Detroit’s Deputy Chief Todd Bettison said Thursday that the most complaints the police department receives are related to reckless and speeding drivers in the city. Officials had several high-end vehicles on display outside of the news conference Thursday as an example of the vehicles they are seizing as a part of this effort.

Related: Detroit police urged to crack down on drag racing: ‘These guys are going over a hundred miles an hour doing wheelies’

White also said that, on the weekends especially, many people are coming to Detroit from outside cities and causing disruptions. He pleaded to parents Thursday, asking them to monitor their children’s behavior and make sure they’re staying out of trouble -- particularly those who are under the age of 17 and are not supposed to be out unsupervised past 10 p.m.

White says he doesn’t want the department to heavily police children, and that they are their parents’ responsibility.

Several community organizations and leaders showed support for the plan Thursday, saying the city’s latest approach is “proactive” and community-focused, and will help prevent tragedies before they occur. The interim chief says there are many other components to the plan that are not being shared with the public.

The announcement of the summer crowd control plan comes a few days after Detroit police Commissioner Willie Burton pleaded with visitors and residents of Greektown to stop the violence, following news of a large brawl that broke out in the neighborhood this month. The brawl was one of several to go viral between the end of May and beginning of June this year.

Following the recent violence in Downtown Detroit, police decided to introduce a new plan that will include a zero tolerance policy for any type of illegal activity in Greektown. Officials were also considering shutting down some streets in Greektown to control the flow of people.

More: New plan to stop violence in Detroit’s Greektown neighborhood introduced

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.