Detroit was one of the major good-news stories in yesterday’s FBI release of national crime data for the first six months of 2010. The city saw a significant drop in violent crime and homicide reports, says the Detroit News. The number of reported violent crimes from January to June fell from 8,735 to 8,047, a 7.9 percent decrease. Homicides slid from 202 to 146 – a 28 percent drop – while robberies were down from 2,766 to 2,506, a decrease of about 9 percent.
Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said deploying officers more wisely and building relationships with citizens was largely responsible for the reduction. Daniel Kennedy, criminal justice professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, said the economy doesn’t play so large a role in crime rates as most people think. “People tend to over-exaggerate the influence of the economy on crime,” Kennedy said. “Most young men who hold up party stores aren’t taking that money to buy their babies formula; they’re doing it because it’s a lifestyle. Unemployment isn’t usually going to turn an honest guy into a hoodlum.” Kennedy said the latest figures are reason for “cautious optimism,” but he also said the numbers can be influenced by factors such as declining population and imperfect reporting procedures.