MAYOR ANNOUNCES GAINS IN HOMICIDE NUMBERS
The trend of skyrocketing homicides in the city of Detroit established during the first half of 2009 has been reversed and the Detroit Police Department's closure rate for homicide cases has doubled in the three months since Mayor Dave Bing appointed Warren Evans Chief of Police, the Mayor announced today.
During the third quarter of 2009, there were 96 criminal homicides compared with 125 in the second quarter, which was up 50% over the first quarter. The rate of criminal homicides during the 2nd quarter of 2009, just prior to Chief Evans' appointment, was up nearly 100% over the same three-month period last year. (see accompanying chart: Criminal Homicide Rate).
Homicide rates are typically compared by each quarter of the year to take into account weather conditions. Historically, the third quarter of the year, which includes the hottest months of July & August, has the highest rate of homicides, while the first quarter (Jan. - March) records the lowest. By definition, a criminal homicide is any death in which physical trauma is evident and through investigation is determined not to be suicide or self defense under FBI Uniform Crime Reporting standards. (see attached sheet: Homicide vs. Criminal Homicide.)
Meanwhile, the Detroit Police Department's closure rate for homicide cases has more than doubled in the third quarter compared to the first half of 2009. Detroit’s homicide closure rate has averaged about 35% over the past several years and during the first half of 2009 was at approximately 27%.
During the 3rd quarter of 2009, however, DPD closed 60% of its cases, matching the national average among police departments for the first time in nearly 10 years. The DPD homicide closure rate through the first three quarters of 2009 is now up to 38.5 percent.
“When I took office in May, I made it clear that our approach to crime had to change,” said Mayor Bing. “We made it a priority to focus on data, target crimes and criminals more effectively and work cooperatively with our community. These numbers reflect that commitment.”
Since being appointed Chief of Police, Evans has instituted several initiatives to carry out this directive:
Reduction in criminal homicides:
Assigned 20 additional officers to the Gang Enforcement Unit, which specializes in gathering intelligence to help prevent gun crimes from occurring and in apprehending shooters.
Creating Project CRUSADERS, a data driven approach to addressing crime “hot spots” that also takes advantage of significant increased participation from a host of local, state and federal partner agencies.
Established the Ticket & Tow program, which, for the first time in years, includes sanctions for drivers who operate a vehicle without a valid license. In past years, violators were simply released due to a lack of lockup space. Evans' approach has been to tow the vehicle (all other local agencies arrest such offenders and tow their vehicle). Evans believes setting this new tone of accountability has put people on notice that it's not “anything goes” in Detroit anymore.
Developed and implemented Project Safe Passage, which is the public safety component of Mayor Bing's Safe Routes to Schools initiative.
Increase in homicide closure rate:
Assigned officers from DPD's Special Response Team (SRT) to utilize its time between training and assignments to specifically track down homicide suspects wanted on warrants.
An increase in citizen tips and voluntary turn-ins. Since Evans took over as Chief, he has been calling on citizens to assist police by providing information. During the 3rd quarter of 2009, the Homicide Unit indicated that it has experienced both an increase in tips and an increase in the number of murder suspects who have voluntarily turned themselves in.
“Protecting citizens is the most important service a government provides. There is nothing I take more seriously,” Mayor Bing said. “I am encouraged by this progress but I recognize much work remains to make Detroit the city we all want it to be.”
Evans pointed out that while the homicide numbers are promising, he understands the challenges ahead.
“The numbers show that we can make a difference, but we still have far too many shootings and far too many homicides in our city. That remains as unacceptable to me today as it was in July,” he said. “Our response time also is far too long in many cases. We are going to continue to work these problems every day. Our progress thus far should energize residents, who we need to remain actively engaged to help us prevent and solve more crimes.”