Fighting Crime: It’s Up to All of Us
A proposed reorganization of the police department is supposed to help cut down on crime. But the police can’t do it alone.
Residents say their block of Stahelin, in the Cody-Rouge neighborhood, is relatively crime-free. But it wasn’t always that way.
Burglars hit Andrea Jackson’s house more than once.
She told us about the day she, “Came home from work and the back door was kicked in and it was open”
That was the second break-in at her house. “They had taken some things and they had left the place a mess.”
Andrea thought about moving out of the city, then made up her mind to send the bad guys packing instead, ” I am a Detroiter. I love Detroit. What I decided to do was start a block club.”
The block has been organized for about four years now. Everyone knows each other and Andrea says the results have been phenomenal.
“We do not have break-ins any more. Our cars do not get stolen. We don’t have a problem with blight. We don’t have a problem with vacant homes.”
The City of Detroit will help neighbors form block clubs. Residents just need to contact one of the community affairs/recreation centers.
Raymond Solomon is manager of community affairs for the east side district. He told us, “We have a start-up kit, if you will. You come into the office and sign up. We will talk to you about how many residents that you have interested in joining, give you some best practices on how to form your block club.”
They’ll even send a representative to attend the first meeting to get you on your way.
Back on Stahelin, Saba Muzib and Andrea have been neighbors for five years. Now they’re friends.
Saba says, “There was a high crime rate before she started the block club. I’ve seen the crime decrease due to the sense of community.”
In the Palmer Woods neighborhood the residents have taken things one step further. They have hired a private company to help keep them safe.
According to Dale Brown, Director of Operations for Threat Management Center, “We provide deterrence, detection and defense. We keep the area clear of violent criminals by creating a position where criminals do not believe there is any opportunity or options to create violent crimes in the first place.”
Brown began his method of crime deterrence on Detroit’s east side in the area around East Jefferson and Holcolm, “There was one murder per month within one square block and there were constant home invasions. I was able to stop those by creating conditions that were conducive to families and not conducive to violent criminals to thrive.”
The Threat Management Center system is based on preventing crime – not catching criminals.
“We’re looking for people who show a predatory disposition, whether they’re driving or they’re on foot. We’re looking for how they’re carrying themselves, how they’re walking, how they’re talking to other people.”
And if they see someone suspicious, they don’t confront them, they welcome the person to the neighborhood, ask if they’ve seen any criminal activity, and then offer them protection.
Then they say, ” And just so you’re safe, we’re going to be right behind you, 50 years back, making sure no one robs you because robberies can happen in this area”
And they allow their para-military appearance and demeanor to say what their words do not.
Dale Brown says, “The truth is that violence is worse than ever because society has changed quite a bit.”
Citizens have to take the initiative to watch out for each other in this new reality.
On Andrea’s block, “We are each others keepers. Because of the block club I fell back in love with Detroit. Because of the block club I’m staying in Detroit. I’m here to stay.”