Detroit Homicides Drop Only to Match New York City Numbers

New Detroit Police Chief James Craig has seen homicide rates drop 14% since 2012, but Detroit continues to maintain its title as one of the murder capitols of the U.S. In 2013, the number of criminal homicides among Detroit’s dwindling population of less than 1 million was 333; New York, a city with nearly 11 million people suffered the same number of murders—333! If Detroit’s homicide rate was extrapolated to New York population size, the number of murders in New York City would be nearly 4,000.

Even at 333, Detroit had one of its lowest murder rates in almost 2 decades. Other violent crime declined as well; the city experienced almost 15% less sexual assaults and a 7% drop in violent crime overall.

Craig, who took over the position of chief in mid-2013, has worked to change policies initiated by predecessors that limited the police availability to citizens. Some precincts were closing as early as 4pm and replaced by “virtual precincts” that citizens found difficult to navigate. Many times people called police and they took hours to arrive or did not show up at all.

Detroit has been plagued by shootings for years and 2013 was no different. Even though the city experienced about 50 less shooting than the previous year, several high-profile incidents reminded Michigan residents that there is still a very serious problem in the city. One week in November of 2013 saw 9 homicides and serious shootings including a pregnant woman, her unborn child, and a 75 year old grandfather who was critically injured. Wayne State law student and single mother Tiane Brown joins the countless ranks of the senseless shooting victims that include an 8th grade football player and several unintended, innocent victims of drive by shootings.

On the plus side, Craig’s police force has raised the rate of homicide clearance from about 10% to 50%. Not a stellar number, but significantly better than 10%. Hopefully, the downward trend of murders and violent crime continues and clearance rates continue to rise. It is possible that a higher clearance rate will discourage many of the shootings, but only time will tell if Craig’s tireless efforts to improve the plight of this once proud city effect a permanent decline in the grim statistics.