Detroit is reeling over a spate of violence that has left 51 dead – four of them gunned down in the last week, reports the Detroit News. The spike in shootings has many concerned at a time when Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other officials are trying to shed the city's crime-ridden image in time for two premiere sporting events.
Reported shootings this year have increased more than 16 percent and homicides are 28 percent higher than at this time a year ago. The deadly toll this week alone has been staggering, and the targets seemingly random. They include two Detroit police officers shot dead during a traffic stop, a pizza delivery man gunned down in his car on a delivery, and an armored car guard shot to death on the job.
The city needs is trying to build local support for improvements before the 2005 All-Star Game and 2006 Super Bowl.
Kilpatrick will meet with 50 local pastors today in an attempt to get residents more involved in helping to report crimes and to fight against social ills that help create them. Local law enforcement officials warn there will be no easy fixes to a crime rate fueled by easy access to guns and drugs.
The crime increase is unusual for this time of year, but it's not unusual for Detroit to post wildly swinging rates throughout the year. For example, there were 23 homicides last June, but in July, the number doubled. Then the number dropped 17 percent.
Over the past three decades, Detroit consistently has reported one of the highest murder rates in the country and typically averages at least a murder a day – 361 in 2003. City officials had expected crime would be lower this year than in 2003.
Instead, says the News, the rising violence has many feeling a familiar sense of hopelessness for Detroit. “There's a pattern here with this mayor and the police chief and administration in terms of being very slow to respond or even the lack of response,” Detroit Police Officer Reggie Crawford said. “At this time, when we have experienced what I call the Super Bowl of homicides and the Super Bowl of crime, the first thing is to acknowledge that there's a problem. And the second thing is to effectively deal with the problem.”