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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Detroit crime still trending down in 2019, but homicides tick up

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Violent crime is still trending down in Detroit, according to preliminary numbers issued by the Detroit Police Department on Friday.

Police Chief James Craig says that in 2019, violent crime was down 4% from the previous year, and 16% from 2015.

But there were 273 homicides last year, a slight jump from 261 in 2018. Non-fatal shootings also ticked up in 2019.

Craig says gang-driven violence is down, thanks in part to an on-the-ground intervention strategy that uses both police and community advocates as mediators. He says they helped broker a truce between several west side gangs responsible for spikes in violence last year.

“So that’s going to be a strategy that we enhance over the next year. We know it works,” Craig says.

As of now, Craig says the bulk of Detroit homicides and shootings are the result of interpersonal disputes. “Arguments were the leading motive for both homicides (34%) and non-fatal shootings at 31%,” Craig says.

Craig says the DPD hired 304 officers last years, but he admits that both hiring and retaining officers has been a challenge. He says a priority for this year will be making sure there is thorough followup after every shooting, acknowledging that some violent incidents could have been prevented with more thorough investigation after prior crimes.

Despite the overall downward trend, the FBI still lists Detroit as the most violent big city in the U.S. on a per-capita basis.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and federal law enforcement agencies announced last month the city will be part of Operation Relentless Pursuit. That will put more federal resources on the ground in an effort to stem violent crime.

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