This week’s slaying of rapper Proof at a Detroit nightclub highlighted an unwelcome trend, says the Detroit Free Press. As of Tuesday, the 2006 Detroit homicide count was 106, a 22 percent increase over the 87 during the same time last year. Nonfatal shootings are up, 337 compared with 280. Other major municipalities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, and Washington, D.C., have seen a drop in killings.
Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said the numbers are “a huge red flag for me.” She said a reduction in the number of police may have had an impact. She said high unemployment, illiteracy rates, and the prevalence of guns play roles. Overall, said the chief: “We’ve done a tremendous job over the last couple of years. Even with losing close to 1,000 officers in last 4 1/2 years, we’ve been able to keep crime down.” Last year, Detroit had 374 homicides, down from 384 in 2004. While that ranks among the most in U.S. cities, it’s far lower than the 714 homicides of 1974, when Detroit got the nickname Murder City.