Detroit crime numbers, already among the nation’s highest, are expected to balloon this year as a result of dramatically increasing homicides and chronic underreporting of violence in previous years, new police chief Warren Evans told the Detroit News. The growing homicide total –nearly 20 percent higher in 2009 than even revised totals from last year — and the disturbing revelation that perhaps as many as 20 percent of violent crimes are not logged by the Detroit Police Department are his top priorities, said Evans, who took command two weeks ago. “It’s the Wild West out there,” said Evans.
As of last Thursday, 216 people had been slain in Detroit this year, putting the city on pace for as many as 450 for the year. Over the same period in 2008, there were 181 homicides and 375 for the year, giving Detroit the highest murder rate in the nation. New York City, with nearly 10 times Detroit’s population, had 200 homicides through July 1. Evans has noticed an unacceptable undercounting of violent crimes in a random sampling of police records. The problem, he said, is an overwhelmed force that does not respond in a timely fashion to emergency calls. “It usually happens at shift change,” Evans said. “Guys come in the afternoon, and there is a backlog of 25 runs. If they don’t get to those calls and don’t write a report, the crime never gets counted. That’s got to change. That’s going to change.”