Torrid Murder Pace Demands Urgent Response
Unexpected rise in Detroit slayings may require shift in strategy, full deployment of police resources to combat it
The Detroit News, Feb. 3
Detroit’s murder rate is surging and demands a focused and effective response from the city’s police and politicians.
Killings in January accelerated at a shocking pace. On Sunday alone, 12 people were shot and three died. For the month, 35 Detroiters were slain, compared with 26 during the same period last year.
In just five days between Friday, Jan. 23 and last Wednesday, 16 people were shot and killed. The next highest number for the same five-day period in recent years was nine in 2001, according to Inspector Marilyn Hall-Beard, head of the Homicide Section.
At least as disturbing is the 50 percent increase in nonfatal shootings. Ninety-two shootings were reported in January, compared with 60 in the same month last year.
Police officials stress that the shootings aren’t random — most of the victims knew their attacker. They attribute about half of the killings to drug-related activity.
“It reminds me of Prohibition,” Insp. Hall-Beard says.
Detroiters can help the police by reporting suspected criminal activity, she says.
The sudden rise in murders has taken the department by surprise because killings have been declining. The city had 361 slayings last year, the lowest since 1967, when there were 281. The number of murders so far this year has risen to around the level it was at this point in 2000 through 2002, Insp. Hall-Beard says.
The Police Department indicates it hasn’t shifted its attention from street crime, but the shooting surge should cause the department to consider redeploying officers and resources.
The murder increase demands first priority on the department’s energy. The January surge can’t be allowed to become a year-long trend.