The population of Detroit has fallen to 700,000. Twenty-five percent of city residents left between 2000 and 2010. A recent survey shows that far more plan on leaving soon. As many as 40 percent of remaining residents plan on moving within the next five years.
The reason for this exodus? Safety.
Most people in the city feel unsafe. Crime, they believe, has made their city uninhabitable. Now, the growing number of vacant homes and failing businesses are only adding to the unsafe environment.
A comprehensive poll of the city found that most Detroiters are ready to leave. Fifty-eight percent cited crime as their biggest concern, far more than the economy and unemployment (despite the unemployment rate being near 50%).
But police officials say the people of the city are being misled, that the media is portraying the city as more unsafe than it actually is. Try telling that to the people who are afraid to leave their homes at night, afraid of leaving their home empty, or afraid to wear nice clothing because they feel it will make them a mark for a robbery.
Violent crime is down 12 percent, say city officials. They credit CompStat (a computerized and targeted system that analyzes crime trends and encourages focused enforcement) with lowering the crime rate in Midtown by 38 percent. But while they sing the praises of CompStat, they ignore the issues that this program has created in cities like New York and Baltimore, with officers and administrators accused of fudging numbers and establishing quotas.
And what’s been experienced in Midtown seems to be unique to Midtown. That area has seen an influx of the young and economically independent. It’s seen a resurgence of life. Elsewhere, residents are fleeing.
Perhaps stoking the fear and issuing a bit of propaganda for their own benefit, members of the local police union handed out fliers this past weekend to fans at Comerica Park. The flyers said “Enter Detroit at your own risk.” Those officers, incidentally, are upset over paycuts.
If crime is down nearly 35% in Midtown, it could account for an overall decline in the city. But areas where crime is bad, where the people are afraid to walk alone, crime is likely to be holding steady or even climbing.
As it goes in Detroit, and other cities experiencing similar crime problems, the cops will make arrests and the courts will dole out punishments, with little being done to prevent crime or help make the crime-ridden neighborhoods more inhabitable.
If you are arrested for a criminal offense in Detroit, you need someone on your side advocating for your rights. The police don’t want to hear it and the prosecutor certainly isn’t on your side. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.