Sarah Cwiek | Michigan Radio
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Sarah Cwiek

Sarah Cwiek - Detroit Reporter/Producer

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. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.

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Antwan Green

For victims of violence, the recovery process usually goes far beyond healing from physical wounds.

But many never get help dealing with trauma and its aftermath. And sometimes, victims are treated like criminals — especially if they’re young and black.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Ten years ago this month, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor found more than 11,000 untested rape kits in an abandoned evidence warehouse.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Kym Worthy celebrated the decade-long effort that followed to test those kits, investigate cases, and prosecute offenders.

All the kits have now been tested, thanks to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and a multitude of partners that helped fund and facilitate that process.

Worthy’s office has now investigated and closed more than 3,000 cases, winning 197 convictions so far. Another 588 cases are still either being investigated, or have yet to be tackled.

Wikipedia (public domain)

A tiny suburb in Detroit’s Downriver area has put some new restrictions on recording public meetings—some of which one attorney says seem to violate Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

The Riverview City Council passed those restrictions last week. Among them:

More than 1 in 3 Detroit homes have gone into foreclosure in the past 15 years, creating miles of blight. The Detroit Land Bank was supposed to assemble and sell vacant homes but some contend it is too slow to do so.
Bridge Magazine

Wayne County will foreclose on fewer Detroit homes this year for the fourth straight year, according to numbers the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office provided on Friday.

Wayne County has 3,023 residential Detroit properties on its tax foreclosure list right now. 1,083 of them are believed to be occupied homes.

Dave Woodward portait
oakgov.com

Former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson died on Saturday, but the race to replace him is already becoming complicated and heated--and sparked public criticism from Patterson's team.

By law, Oakland County commissioners have 30 days to appoint an interim successor for Patterson. If they don’t, a special election will be held to fill the remainder of his term through 2020.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One of two men convicted of a 1999 murder is suing two ex-Detroit Police investigators for allegedly fabricating the case against him.

Justly Johnson alleges the now-retired homicide detectives, Catherine Adams and Barbara Simon, coerced teenagers into falsely testifying that Johnson and Kendrick Scott shot and killed Lisa Steinberg Kindred in a robbery gone wrong.

Polling place
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

The cities of Warren, Flint, and Jackson all had mayoral primaries on Tuesday, with the top two vote-getters advancing to November's general election.

In all three cities, the incumbents won their races and will move on.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Former United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell has been sentenced to 15 months in prison as part of a far-reaching corruption scheme that involved siphoning money from a joint UAW-Fiat-Chrysler worker training center.

Jewell pleaded guilty in April to violating federal labor law when he used his training center credit card to pay for union expenses, including trips to California golf resorts, steakhouse dinners and parties.

oak.gov

Longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson died on Saturday at age 80. His political career spanned five decades.

Patterson leaves a formidable but polarizing legacy.

To some, he was a principled, no-nonsense leader with a blunt wit, who embodied the essence of good government. To others, he was a divisive figure who fanned the flames of racial and geographic tensions, and held southeast Michigan back by thwarting regional cooperation.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

11 years after the start of the recession and housing crash, the ripple effects are still felt acutely across Detroit and Wayne County, members of a U.S. House subcommittee heard at a field hearing in Detroit on Friday.

The issues are complex, but the numbers are stark: since the housing crisis began in 2009, Detroit has flipped from a majority-homeowner to a majority-renter city. That’s due in large part to the wave of mortgage and property tax foreclosures that swept the city in the following years.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Police Department has proposed a new policy for using facial recognition technology, but it’s already opposed by a coalition of civil rights groups.

DPD has been using facial recognition without a formal oversight policy in place for more than a year. The department withdrew an initial proposed policy after the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners tabled a vote on it in June, and submitted a revised version in its place last week.

Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

As the Democratic presidential candidates prepare to debate in Detroit over the next two days, hundreds of nursing home care workers have gathered in the city to highlight what they call in an “ongoing care crisis” in that industry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / via Twitter

Protesters targeted the new interim head of Detroit’s Customs and Border Protection office as he took over that job Monday.

Aaron Hull has been temporarily reassigned to Detroit from CBP’s El Paso sector. He was harshly criticized for conditions in several migrant detention centers there.

A US Homeland Security Inspector General’s report found dangerous overcrowding at one facility, along with lice outbreaks and staff falling ill from the squalor.

African American man with facial recognition scan
Pro-stock Studio / Adobe Stock

New technology brings with it new powers and questions. Since Detroit police began using facial recognition technology, there have been questions about how if it should be used, if it should be used at all.

Update: Tuesday, July 30, 7:40 a.m. The debate about police use of facial recognition software continues in Detroit.

Experts and activists shared their concerns about the technology at a forum Monday. Some experts say their fears about the technology extend beyond its current use in Detroit.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / via Twitter

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection leader who’s been deeply involved in the migrant crisis on the Southern border is getting a new job in Detroit.

Aaron Hull is chief patrol agent for the CBP’s El Paso sector. The agency confirms he’s starting as interim chief patrol agent for the Detroit sector next week.

via NAACP

Ten presidential candidates, nine Democrats and one Republican, made their cases to voters at the NAACP’s national convention in Detroit Wednesday.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar took the stage at a voter forum moderated by White House correspondent April Ryan. Former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, and former Texas State Rep. Beto O’Rourke rounded out the Democrats in the field. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld was the sole Republican there.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williams says the country needs to atone for slavery and racist oppression, and she’s the person who could bring that about.

Williamson spoke at the NAACP’s national convention in Detroit Tuesday, telling the audience that her years as a spiritual speaker, activist and author have given her the tools to facilitate racial healing.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit is hosting the national NAACP’s 110th annual convention this week, and Democratic lawmakers are flocking there to address convention-goers ahead of the 2020 election.

This year’s convention motto is “When we fight, we win.” It’s heavily focused on engaging and mobilizing Black voter turnout next year, as well influencing policy on like voting rights, criminal justice reform, and other racial justice issues central to the historic civil rights group’s agenda.

John Seung-Hwan Shin / Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan publicly clarified his stance on police use of facial recognition technology Thursday, as his police chief tried to quell some skepticism from members Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners about the controversial technology.

“The Detroit Police Department has not and will not use facial recognition technology for surveillance,” Duggan said in a statement put out on social media. “No one is watching you on any camera in this city with facial recognition software. I will not support the software ever being used in that way.”

kitchen sink
Creative Commons

Yet another Michigan city is dealing with the issue of lead in tap water, as Highland Park officials announced on Wednesday that the results of state-mandated testing put them in violation of a new, tougher Lead and Copper Rule.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As Detroit expands its network of surveillance cameras, Detroit police are looking to expand their capability to monitor and process the footage.

The police department is asking the Detroit City Council to approve a $4 million contract to expand its existing real-time crime center at police headquarters. It would also add two mini-centers at the eighth and ninth precincts.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has promised to step up its response to persistent flooding in the Jefferson Chalmers area, but some residents think it’s too little, too late.

The low-lying neighborhood on the city’s far east side is crossed with canals that feed into the Detroit River. Record-high water levels and persistent rain have caused those canals to spill over onto adjoining properties and streets, flooding homes, streets, and creating hazards like sinkholes.

Erica Perez
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Can a county government seize a home for back taxes, sell it for price that exceeds the tax debt, and pocket the profits?

That issue is at the heart of the lawsuit that Erica Perez filed against Wayne County and County Treasurer Eric Sabree Tuesday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman Andy Levin joined a group of interfaith leaders in Detroit on Monday to protest against the idea of war with Iran.

Levin (D-9th District), an Oakland County Democrat and Jewish leader, stood alongside Muslim and Christian leaders at Central United Methodist Church to denounce a possible war, saying it would be both morally unjustified and strategically disastrous.

Yumi Kimura / Wikimedia Commons

Detroit’s Fourth of July long weekend is off to a violent start, with police reporting at least ten shooting incidents across the city Thursday night into Friday morning.

Most of the shootings appear to have resulted from interpersonal disputes. They started with a non-fatal shooting during an argument at a fireworks display around 11:30 p.m.

Consumers Energy / via Michigan Public Service Commission

The Michigan Public Service Commission is demanding Consumers Energy take more action to prevent a possible repeat of a fire last January.

That fire broke out at the utility’s Ray Township compressor station on Jan. 31, during frigid temperatures at the height of the polar vortex.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two Macomb County leaders made pleas for a new jail—and a millage to support it--from inside the county’s current facility on Monday.

County Executive Mark Hackel and Sheriff Anthony Wickersham talked to reporters from inside a cell block that dates back to 1954. “D Block” is an old-school, dormitory-style cell block surrounded by iron bars that both say illustrates the need for a new facility.

Wayne County

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree is applauding a new law signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer that allows county treasurers to work with homeowners, and implement payment plans with reduced interest rates on back property taxes.

A temporary law from late 2014 allowed this, but was scheduled to sunset June 30th. Now, the law has been extended until 2026.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit plans to put $500 million into its water and sewer systems, in what officials call the city’s first large-scale upgrade of its water infrastructure since 1930.

The five-year capital improvement project calls for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to replace or re-line more than 50 miles of water mains and sewer collection pipes this year alone. It also calls for more green infrastructure projects to manage storm water.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners opted to postone a vote on police guidelines for using facial recognition technology Thursday.

Detroit already uses facial recognition technology through its Project Green Light program at more than 500 privately-owned locations. The city credits the Green Light program with reducing crime around those locations, though skeptics question whether there’s enough solid data to support the conclusion that Green Light is causing the crime drop, instead of other factors.

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