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Detroit on track to record lowest homicide rate in 60 years

During a news conference Monday, officials said there's been an 18% drop in killings compared to last year.
Detroit Police patrol car
Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 06, 2023

Detroit, a city long plagued with one of the highest murder rates in the country, is on track to end the year with the fewest homicides it has had in almost 60 years.

City, county and state officials released crime statistics during a press conference Monday at Wayne County’s office in downtown Detroit. They said from Jan. 1 through Nov. 30 there were 228 criminal homicides in the city, which is an 18% drop from the 278 killings during the same period last year. 

If that pace continues, Detroit officials said the city would end 2023 with the fewest homicides of any year since 1966, when there were 214 killings.

During this same period, shootings that did not result in a fatality are down 13% and carjackings are down 36%, officials said Monday. 

Officials credited the crime decline to a program that city, county and state officials partnered on and launched two years ago. The Gun Violence Reduction Partnership was created to clear the backlog of gun-related cases in the courts following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“You size your jail beds for a three- to six-month docket,” explained Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The judges had to put them out on very low bond. They had no choice. People who shot people were out on the street.”

According to multiple reports, gun violence that resulted in deaths across the country hit an all-time high during the pandemic.

Recent data showed those numbers are starting to declinenationwide – although it is hard to gather a national scope for comparison since changes in data reporting requirements to the Federal Bureau of Investigations now rely on law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to voluntarily report their statistics. And a chunk of them do not, according to The Marshall Project. 

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said, “COVID highlighted what we already knew, which is we’ve got some systems that are overworked and they need to be fixed.” But he added that fixing criminal justice systems takes time because so many offices are involved at many levels. 

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard said the backlog of cases was reduced by 75% because of the solutions implemented by the coalition. 

Some of those solutions included allowing judges to work from home to tackle the caseload, creating a docket specifically for gun cases, increasing accountability for those on probation and parole through the Michigan Department of Corrections and enforcing curfews or house arrests for defendants who are out on tethered bonds. 

The coalition also increased staffing for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

"Leadership, teamwork, and a commitment to the community were key components of this initiative," Evans said. "This success resulted from every single agency working together and working hard."

Even with homicide rates in Detroit headed in the right direction, it still has one of the highest homicide rates per capita of any city in the U.S. behind Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tennessee, according to a report from WalletHub

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