The crime facing Detroit is not insurmountable and it's untruthful to say that it's citywide.
I don't need to use this space to rehash the crime that has led to this point. It is reported everyday in the news; however, what is often not reported is the opportunity to proactively address crime.
As a citizen I am concerned like you. My family lives here too. My son is raising his family here. Both my daughters work in the city also. But my primary concern stems as to why the police department has not yet restructured.
There is a fact that is missing in this crime talk. Beyond this, the crime rate in downtown Detroit is 37-percent less than the national average.
The crime affecting our neighborhoods is fixable.
Detroit continues to face a fiscal crisis. The Detroit Police Department (DPD) will have a cut in its budget as well in all departments. However, the issue to address crime in the neighborhoods is not about resources; it's about managing the resources.
Let's start out with some base facts about DPD. The department has more than sufficient financial resources and personnel to proactively address crime. We spend more on our police budget than all 10 of the safest American cities of similar size and we have more officers than nine of the 10 safest cities. DPD is spending resources on the wrong areas and it's using trained officers behind the desks instead of civilians.
Furthermore, the McKinsey audit of DPD, commissioned by the Bing Administration, clearly illustrates that only one-third of the trained police officers are on patrol. Often these patrol officers spend four hours processing paperwork. It is clear when reviewing this report that changing work rules, creating efficiencies through technology, and placing more officers on the streets will reduce response times.
Deployment of more police officers in our neighborhoods will both reduce response times and create more public safety visibility. More officers on the streets visibly deter crime. That is a national police best practice.
Additionally, restructuring DPD should include decentralization. For instance, any patrol officer should be able to write tickets when someone is in violation of traffic laws and other ordinances, not only the traffic unit. Furthermore, specialized units, such as the DPD Special Response Team, must be deployed to patrol our neighborhoods when they are not on assignment. Again, we have the trained manpower that will curb crime when used effectively.
In Detroit, we have a Secondary Employment program that is yet to be fully utilized. This allows off-duty officers in uniform with their issued equipment and police scout car to be employed by a private company, non-profit or community association. Why more organizations that have the resources, such as Jefferson East Association that currently contracts off-duty officers, are not utilizing the program is a matter of getting the word out.
The incentive for DPD to restructure is there. We must proactively address crime.
As businesses work to create a thriving city, as indicated by the groundbreakings of Meijer and Whole Foods Market locations last week, the City of Detroit's duty is to provide responsible, proactive police, fire and trash pick-up services to support all Detroit residents, businesses operating here and looking to open here, and those who work in our beloved city.
But, the crime issues do not fall entirely on the police department. Education must improve. DPS has the worst graduate rate in the nation -- less than 25 percent of freshmen graduate from high school. Without a degree our youth do not have many options. There are limited after-school programs. Parents are strained with maintaining a household that many of them cannot support learning. I am encouraged by the work of Roy Roberts and the foundations involved in improving academics.
Public-private partnerships are necessary along with restructuring both our core municipal services.
Detroit will repair our finances. We will focus on core services -- improve public safety, enhance education and create jobs. This will all lead to thriving environment. The city cannot do this alone in a vacuum. Together, we do possess the power to become the best of Detroit.
Follow Gary A. Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/garybrown4det