800 Shot In Detroit In The First Half Of 2004

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More than 800 people were shot in Detroit in the first six months of this year, a 70 percent jump in gun violence that experts and police blame on factors ranging from upheaval and scarce resources in the police department to high unemployment rates among young males and a hip-hop culture that condones gunfire to solve disputes, says the Detroit News. “We have our own war over here, we don't have to go to Iraq,” said Monya Lyons, 49, whose family has been stung by almost two decades of gunfire. “Over the years, I have gone to more funerals than graduations.”

The increase in gun violence this year goes against a 6.9 percent decrease in violent crime in Detroit over the same time frame. Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, former department executives, and local criminologists say factors such as societal breakdowns, violence bred by drug trafficking and turmoil in the police department have contributed to the upsurge in gun violence. Bully-Cummings said another factor is the high unemployment rates among young men, those most commonly involved in gun violence. Detroit lost 36,300 jobs this year, more than any other U.S. city. Robert Homant, a University of Detroit Mercy criminologist who specializes in aggressive behavior, added that, “There has been a great deal of turmoil within the Detroit Police Department in this period. Along with this management problem, there has also been a strong message coming from federal investigators that the Detroit Police Department was using too much force, interrogating and holding witnesses to squeeze them for information. How helpful these heavy-handed methods (no longer used) may have been in suppressing violence, or whether the elimination of them is a factor, is an open question.”

Link: http://www.detnews.com/2004/specialreport/0408/15/a01-242749.htm

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