My first blog entry for HuffPostDetroit featured the MADE Men who provide the eyes and ears of citizens' patrols around Detroit Public Schools' Osborn, Brenda Scott, Turning Point and Fleming School buildings in northeast Detroit.
This morning I spent an hour with Calvin Colbert and four other "Brothers on Patrol" (actually, one was a sister) on the streets surrounding a square mile radius of the Cody High School complex, home to four small DPS high schools, plus a fifth Upper School which is phasing out this year.
The fact that we got in the flashing-yellow-lighted minivan, with the Brothers on Patrol's magnetic sign on the doors, in the shadow of the same driver's education track I practiced on -- uh, XX years ago -- and that we drove repeatedly past the Catholic Church that remains my home every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., and my other ties to this particular northwest Detroit neighborhood notwithstanding, the brief tour felt hugely significant. It was like a piece of a seemingly too-complicated puzzle about how this community comes together to wrap its school children in all the support, protection and care that we can muster to ensure their success.
Patrol Brother Colbert described how the group's volunteer members know when each school bus arrives and when each D-DOT bus stops at the corner of West Chicago and Faust during an hour-long period each morning. They know the faces of the students walking down the blocks of Penrod and Greenview from Joy Road to the schools' entrances, and they keep count on the still-growing number of vacant, abandoned homes along those routes and within sight of the school.
They communicate with the school's administrators about pending issues and prepare for the afternoon volunteer tour of duty each day with knowledge of events and happenings that may cause trouble. The efforts that they stress are proactive succeed because of the continuity of their commitment and the regularity of their patrols. Colbert chafes at the multitude of agencies and leaders who descended on the neighborhood a few years ago when a number of students were shot in a highly publicized after-school incident at a nearby gas station bus stop. Everyone came, stayed a few days, then left, the patrol captain notes. He and his crew are here five days a week, morning and afternoon.
The Brothers, MADE Men, the M.A.N. Network and other men's patrol groups who are watching routes and bus stops are joined by a group of volunteers called the Detroit Public Schools Parent and Community Academy, who "wear yellow jackets and act as safety volunteers, monitoring youth traveling to and from school, in school hall ways and lunch rooms, and around the school."
DPS expanded citizens' patrols and also issued a call for additional volunteers this year. That, plus a multi-agency effort, resulted in safer schools and safer routes to school that I wrote about back in December.
The strong trends continue. Here's the updated crime stats: The data was gleaned from the CRISNET report, the official written report used by the DPS Police Department and the Detroit Police Department to manage and store police information regarding criminal activity within Detroit.
Overall, the DPS Police Department reports a 13 percent reduction in reported crimes when compared with the same period last school year. Specifically, concealed weapons violations were reduced by 45 percent, felony assaults by 43 percent and armed robberies by 58 percent. Other reductions included larceny (down 9 percent), misdemeanor assaults (down 10 percent), vehicle thefts/B&E's (down 7 percent), arson (down 12 percent), and ordinance violations (down 40 percent). Building B&E's were down 12 percent year to year including a 41 percent reduction in incidents at open school buildings. Increases were registered in alleged sexual assaults, narcotics violations, and thefts. Felony arrests obtained increased by 42 percent during this time period.
Schools are still seeking volunteers for new eyes-on patrols at schools and other locations. To volunteer, call (313) 748-6008.