This isn't just another complaint about the mainline media, or maybe it is.
But the continual portrayal of this city in images and verse as one with flames ripping from rooftops, bodies dumped in fields and hopeless conditions for its youth, adults, and any leaders ever courageous to do something about it, by its own resident media outlets, is one of those uniquely Detroit phenomena that deserves some courageous conversation in its own right if we have the chance to break free and make that full recovery so long promised.
Take for example the crisp sunny morning on the day before Thanksgiving, in a lot behind a northeast Detroit public school for students with special needs, where indeed a body had been dumped in an unrelated incident. TV trucks staffed by individuals sent by bosses none of whom had likely ever seen the intersection of Dresden and Linnhurst before were drawn there by voices from a police scanner. They covered the story fairly, largely due to our efforts to get the word out quickly that students and staff were safe and that proper precautions had been made to ensure that education would take place in that school that morning despite the adjoining crime scene investigation.
But the story not told, as far too many others in this neighborhood in the Osborn community that has its share of significant civic, non-profit and foundation-funded programs in the schools and neighborhoods, was one about the two men sitting in a small SUV at that same corner. The vehicle's magnetic sign, "M.A.D.E. Men," would have provided a clue that there's more stories in this little community, as there are across the city, than dead bodies by schools.
The two gentlemen in the vehicle are members of this community patrol force whose primary focus is ensuring safe passage for students at our schools. They are not alone. At the far other corner of the city in the neighborhood surrounding Cody High School, the Brothers on Patrol do the same volunteer work each day. The M.A.N. Network does the same in areas including near Denby High.
Highly active men's patrol groups have been watching routes and bus stops near schools for the past two years. The district also has a group of volunteers called the 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.
The MADE Men told me that morning that they are expanding their efforts beyond patrolling to include tutoring and mentoring. Wow.
By the way, the added citizen patrols as part of the larger multi-agency effort paid off this fall with dramatically lower crime stats for our schools: Decreases were reported in the number of larcenies (down 50%), armed robbery (down 81%), unarmed robbery (down 14%), misdemeanor assaults (down 13%), felony assaults (down 66%), narcotics crimes (down 57%), disorderly conduct (down 33%), violation of school ordinance (tresspass/fights) (down 57%) and B&Es (down 13%) although the number of incidents to open school buildings decreased 40 percent.
The corner visited each day by the MADE men: http://tinyurl.com/79hh74j
Schools are seeking volunteers for new eyes-on patrols at several large high schools and at other locations. To volunteer, call (313) 748-6008.