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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Detroit: Murder Up 12%, but “Serious” Crime is Down; Broken Windows Policing is on the Way

 

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee

 

By Nicholas Stix

[Previously, at WEJB/NSU:

“‘De-Policing’ in America’s Cities: Erasing the ‘Thin Blue Line’”;

“The War on the Police”; and

“‘Disappearing’ Urban Crime.”]

The city's 2011 homicide rate was 48 per 100,000 people, based on the numbers released Friday.

In 2010, Detroit's homicide rate was about 43 per 100,000, by far the highest among the nation's top 20 cities.

The number of homicides in Detroit peaked in 1974 at 714, but the city's population was then about 1.5 million, making the homicide rate the same as 2011.

All seven of the serious [index] crimes, including homicide, decreased compared to the average of the past seven years. [N.S.: The preceding sentence flatly contradicts the previous three paragraphs.] The total decrease was 16.7 percent, though that might be a reflection of the city's declining population.

Detroit Police solved 50 percent of the homicide cases last year, in line with the 2010 percentage, but less than the 53 percent average for U.S. cities with a population of at least 500,000, Godbee said.

Detroit News reader Marty Bliven remarked,

18 homicides in first 2 weeks of '12 = on a pace for 468. Keep up the good work.

There are at least three things wrong with the article that follows this analysis, which I excerpted above.

1. The contradiction I already pointed out;

2. While it is mathematically possible for homicide to increase, while other index crimes— forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny over $50, motor vehicle theft and arson—decrease, it ain’t bloody likely. Murder rates of the sort seen in Detroit and cities like it, express the ultimate in the sort of anarchy that encompasses all index crimes, save perhaps for larceny over $50 and motor vehicle theft;

3. George Kelling is one of the founders (with his wife, Catherine Coles, and James Q. Wilson), of the “broken windows” school of policing. While I am highly skeptical as to whether broken windows policing has worked, I have no doubt that it cannot work in a place like Detroit, because it presupposes a minimal level of civilization that Detroit lacks, and which no government policy or program can provide.

In addition to the above, note that the article says that Detroit’s solve rate for homicides is only 50 percent, and that the national solve rate for big cities, at 53 percent, is barely better. Even without an historical perspective, knowing that the typical American big city has a solve rate for homicides that is barely better than Detroit’s tells you that most American metropolises are uninhabitable. Fifty years ago, the solve rate for most big cities would have been closer to 90 percent. Then again, back then, most big cities in America were overwhelmingly white.

Detroit’s crime problem, like its poverty and education problems, is due to its being a black city. Very few blacks are capable of self-government, whether on the individual or the collective level.

* * *


Detroit homicides up in 2011; serious crime declines overall

By Josh Katzenstein
January 14, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.
The Detroit News
6 Comments

Detroit— Homicides increased by 12 percent in 2011 from 2010, but serious crimes decreased overall in the city, according to preliminary statistics presented Friday by Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

The department saw about 7,300 fewer serious crimes — homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft — than in 2010, about an 8 percent decrease from the year before.

Godbee said during a press conference at the department's downtown headquarters he will take blame for the increase in homicides, to 344 from 308. But he wants his officers and community leaders to take credit for the "Herculean effort" to decrease crime with fewer resources.

"It's really a tribute to the men and women that strap it up every day and consistently go out and do the people's work as well as the community members that assist us," Godbee said. "We are unequivocally doing more with less."

The city's 2011 homicide rate was 48 per 100,000 people, based on the numbers released Friday.

In 2010, Detroit's homicide rate was about 43 per 100,000, by far the highest among the nation's top 20 cities.

The number of homicides in Detroit peaked in 1974 at 714, but the city's population was then about 1.5 million, making the homicide rate the same as 2011.

All seven of the serious crimes, including homicide, decreased compared to the average of the past seven years. The total decrease was 16.7 percent, though that might be a reflection of the city's declining population.

Detroit Police solved 50 percent of the homicide cases last year, in line with the 2010 percentage, but less than the 53 percent average for U.S. cities with a population of at least 500,000, Godbee said.

"Any loss of life is tragic, and every member of this community is owed an explanation, No. 1, and a thorough investigation into the loss of their loved one," Godbee said. As the department works to keep crime in decline, Godbee said he is two months into an 18-month engagement with criminologist George Kelling.

Kelling, a fellow at Harvard University and professor at Rutgers University, is working to help change the methodology of the police department and cut down on small "quality of life" crimes so they don't lead to serious crimes, Godbee said.

"You're going to have to basically retrain a community," said Angelo Henderson, co-founder of activist group Detroit 300.

"Those small things are what make someone go home and get a gun and come back, so it's critical that you get it at the core," he said. "That's the only way you're going to change the culture."

jkatzenstein@detnews.com

(313) 222-2019

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