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Fighting Blight: Brothers on Patrol

May 16 2012 | no comments

In the minutes before school ends, things are quiet around Cody High School on Detroit’s west side.  That’s when Calvin Colbert and Brothers on Patrol begin to watch for trouble.

Every morning from 7:00 to 9:00, then in the afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00, volunteers drive through the Cody neighborhood.


Calvin Colbert, director of the group, told us, “We as men of the community felt it was our responsibility to ensure the safety of our students and our schools.”

DPS Police Chief Roderick Grimes says volunteers are the greatest weapon against crime.  Think of Angel’s Night and the 30,000 people who patrol city streets.  Chief Grimes says, “If we can get one percent of that out on a day to day basis — 300 to 500 volunteers out there, wow, that would make a tremendous difference.

The increasing number of abandoned homes in the neighborhood makes the job more challenging and more important.

Calvin remembers the neighborhood when things were different and he wishes we could all go back to that time, “Every time I look at one of these abandoned houses, I can just reminisce that this was a house which housed a family.  Now it’s a vacant dwelling and looks like a danger, and if I had that magic wand I would have a family in each one of these houses.”

Robert Burgess has lived in the neighborhood for 29 years.  He also remembers what the street used to be like.

“Beautiful, beautiful, no vacant houses anywhere.”  But things changed.  “What happened is people lost their jobs, they moved away, crime went up.”

And for many students, the blight is what they see on their walk every day, so they may not be as careful as they should.

Calvin took us to one house that had no front door at all, “So it breeds an opportunity for some type of illegal activity or for some perpetrator to use this facility to assault or rape one of our young people.”

Many of the buildings have been declared dangerous and unsafe, but there isn’t money to tear them all down.  And there are more of these houses every day.

Calvin says, “As the weather gets warmer it really becomes more of a hazard and we know that perpetrators set these kind of situations up.  They know these buildings.  So they can go from one to the other without being detected or disturbed, unless someone has taken the time to come out and watch out and monitor what’s going on.”

So every morning, and again in the afternoon, Calvin and the Brothers on Patrol will monitor the Cody neighborhood.  It’s their way of fighting blight.


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