Is Detroit’s Police Force Size Linked To High Homicide Count?


New York has a population of 8.2 million and had 494 homicides in 2007. Detroit’s population only 919,000, but there were 404 homicides last year, says the Detroit Free Press. While the city’s unofficial homicide total for 2007 is a decline from 418 in 2006, the number remains near where it has been for nearly a decade. Other big cities continue to mark fewer homicides.

Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings has attributed part of the problem to police manpower. Her force has about 2,200 officers, the lowest number since 1967, or one officer for every 417 residents. New York has about 35,500 officers, or one officer for every 230 residents. Some experts say it’s how departments use resources, along with socioeconomic factors, that contribute to homicide rates. “The size of the police force you maintain is an important factor along with the skill with that they are managed,” said Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University who hailed the efforts of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. “Every city is different,” he said. “I think part of the strategy a lot of big cities have developed is finding the hot spots and getting there with resources they have available.”


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