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Detroit's murder rate continues to climb

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Homicides are trending up in Detroit for the second year in a row.

The city recorded a total of 411 homicides in 2012, up about 9% from the previous year. That total includes killings deemed “justifiable” by police.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says police can only do so much combat pervasive gun violence and a lack of “respect for life.”

Bing says he’s not sure adding even “1000 more police officers” to Detroit’s ranks would help.

“There are things happening in homes, and families, in the communities, and the neighborhoods, that whether a cop is there or not, it’s not gonna stop the crime.”

Detroit’s interim police chief, Chester Logan, agrees that the lack of police presence isn’t the root problem.

“America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit,” said Logan, adding that taking a stand against gun violence should be “the new civil rights issue.”

More than 85% percent of Detroit’s homicides were committed with guns. There were also 1263 reported non-fatal shootings in 2012.

Both Bing and Logan note that the city’s police ranks have thinned considerably in recent years, due largely to attrition. The department had about 2700 sworn officers in 2011.

Logan declined to release current manpower numbers, saying only: “We certainly don’t want to frighten anybody, but it’s sufficient.”

Police say the uptick in homicides belies a decline in some other major crimes, including a nearly 13% drop in burglaries, and a slight decrease in aggravated assaults.

According to department  numbers, “overall city-wide crime is down 2.63% in the aggregate compared to 2011.”

Bing also vowed to hold “regular press briefings” on public safety issues in the coming year.

“Future briefings will focus on a comprehensive analysis of homicide trends in the city, case closure rates, and crime reduction strategies in the Detroit Police Department,” the mayor said.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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