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Safety in the City

Detroit’s top cop lays out his plan to control crime. Will it work?

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Cynthia Wilkins expected to take her young grandson for summer strolls, giving him licks of ice cream and scooping up the big baby who loved wearing baseball caps for hugs.

He had a smile that could light up a house, and he loved his toy, Clifford the Big Red Dog. Wilkins looked forward to special moments with Delric Miller IV: Hearing him utter his first words, watching him take his first steps, and beaming on his first day of school.

That all became a shattered dream when someone fired a barrage of bullets from an AK-47 into a friend’s home on Detroit’s west side, killing the 9-month-old boy as he lay on the couch. Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said more than 30 shots were fired into the house.

The incident has left the infant’s sister, 2-year-old Cassidy Miller, constantly asking where her baby brother is. His mother is unable to speak about the incident, and Wilkins, 39, feels lonely, extremely angry and fatalistic.

“There are no morals,” said Wilkins, whose mother and daughter also were fatally shot in 2001 in separate incidences in Detroit. “If people think you can just hide in your home, they are wrong. (Thugs) will come up inside there and kill you anyways.”

Baby Delric’s death was among a spate of 70 slayings through the first three months of this year that caused Detroit’s homicide rate to jump 37 percent over the same time period last year.

During those months, other high profile cases include 12-year-old Kadijah Davis, who was shot inside her home when the house was sprayed with bullet following a disagreement over a cell phone in late January.

Michael Haynes, 24, was shot and killed at a BP gas station over the price of a box of condoms, and police said a 14-year-old boy shot his mother 10 times while she slept in her bed, killing her. These incidents and others left many Detroiters feeling vulnerable and unsafe, wondering what would happen next.

By early April, the slayings slowed to a total of 85, or a 9.2 percent increase over the same timeframe last year, according to Detroit Police Department data.


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