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CA357 01-05-2013 12:49 AM

Detroit Mayor blames guns, not drugs for violence

Violent crime in Detroit shadows the landscape like its rows of abandoned buildings, but now the city faces a new precedent, even as gun-related killings decline nationwide: More people were killed here last year than at any time in the past 20 years.

"America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit," Interim Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan said at a news conference Thursday, as city officials reported 386 criminal homicides in 2012, the highest since 1992.

"As the chief of police in the city of Detroit, I take a certain amount of blame for the spiraling gunplay in the city," he said, "but one of the things you should realize, and everybody here in this room should realize, is that gunplay is a national problem.”

Logan is correct: The United States is in the throes of another cultural self-examination about guns after the horrific deaths of 20 children and six adults at the hands of a 20-year-old gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Other city officials and urban crime experts say the problem is not just guns.

"At least two-thirds of the homicides in Detroit are related to drug sales, disputes between people selling drugs or disputes between people owing people money about drugs," said David Martin, director of the Urban Safety Program at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Martin has researched police reports in all parts of the city to examine crime patterns. He says Detroit's police have to develop more effective methods of dealing with the city's drug economy and its consequences. "And that's very difficult," Martin told Yahoo News.

Detroit reported 411 homicides in 2012, 25 of them deemed "justifiable" by FBI crime reporting standards. Still, the remaining 386 represent 54.6 homicides per 100,000 residents, according to the Detroit Free Press. In 1993 the rate was 57.6 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also pointed toward community-based causes and, potentially, solutions, but he stopped short of singling out drugs or guns. "The release of annual crime statistics reminds us of the senselessness of crime and violence in our community; the challenges facing our police force; and the need to improve conflict resolution and other anti-crime initiatives," he said in a statement.

Statistically, said Martin, Detroit harbors a range of factors that would contribute to a high homicide rate. The city has a high proportion of young men aged 20-29, he said. That age group accounted for 131 homicide victims and has demographic connections to the drug trade. The number of young men in the city who struggle with dysfunctional families and the high number of vacant homes in Detroit make matters worse.

"Groups of thugs have taken over the neighborhoods, and they can do what they please," Martin said. "It's like the Wild West out there."

Possible solutions addressing the homicide problem could be found in working with that age group, Bing said. "We've got to wrap our arms as best we can around these young folks and let them know that when they get into these kinds of situation it doesn't necessitate a gun; it doesn't have to necessitate a fight."
The mayor said he would meet with Detroit public school officials to try to engage young people in the city. He also promised more communication with local media in 2013 to address the problem.

Martin said the dramatic increase appears to have motivated city, county, state and federal officials to address Detroit's violent crime problem.

"There is a full-court press going on," he said. "There's probably going to be a revamping of each of their crime-fighting strategies. The magical number of 400 homicides seems to spur action."

The city reported a 2.6 percent overall decrease in major crimes such as aggravated assault, burglary and rape, officials said. But it also experienced year-over-year increases in car thefts and robberies.

Jpyle 01-05-2013 12:59 AM

Detroits problem like Philadelphia, Chicago, Camden, etc is not guns. It is a ravaged population that has been destroyed by the liberal policies and the decline of moral values. Detroit was once the crown jewel of American it is mostly a wasteland with over 40% of the city's area being reclaimed by nature.

CA357 01-05-2013 01:11 AM

Exactly. Moral and social decline are never cited as factors. What's left of the central core looks like Dresden.

orangello 01-05-2013 01:23 AM

That guy must be high. ;)

I wonder, does he support legalization of drugs? He says the illegal traffic in drugs is to blame, afterall.

partdeux 01-05-2013 02:56 AM


I could spend hours spewing opinions about detroit, how it got to where it is, and what to do about it.

Most of us in the area refer to Detroit as the city proper, which is actually just a small portion of the entire metro area. Most, but not all of the metro area is actually doing quite well. But, of course, the city itself gets all the publicity.

The city's finances are very very bad. I suspect the state is avoiding doing a financial take over, because even the state can't afford to fix the city, and worse, the remaining entitlement crowd is going to get very violent.

aandabooks 01-05-2013 03:44 AM

What is happening to our large cities is largely a decline in the moral fabric and a generational shift toward entitlement. When you don't work for a living you don't appreciate things. Not working gives more time for trouble and nonproductive pursuits. Now the inner cities are paying the price for what started during the hippie generation.

BigByrd47119 01-05-2013 04:53 AM

City Councel in Detroit is really out of touch. At one point in December they petetioned the POTUS for a bail out...because "we got you reelected."

Detroit is, I am sorry to say, a lost cause...unless of course the residents get fed up with things and start doing something about it!

Tackleberry1 01-05-2013 05:24 AM

Detroit's remaining residents deserve the situation they created...

Keep on voting for handouts like lazy ass children and guess get ignored, disenfranchised, pissed on, and killed.

Suck it up cupcakes and thank your parents... Oops, I mean YO mama's and YO baby daddies!


orangello 01-05-2013 05:13 PM

Maybe the muslims will save it.

[ducks out with a quickness]

Bladerunnerfury 01-05-2013 07:50 PM

All the drug trade and violence goes to the outskirts of Detroit. Living in Macomb county the drugs in school are wicked! The apartments right next to my school have been raided for heroin and most of the kids that I go to school with are randomly violent and pretty dumbed down because of the drugs. So its not a Detroit problem its also my community problem!

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