Safety in the City
Detroit’s top cop lays out his plan to control crime. Will it work?
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Looking for Justice
No arrests have been made in Delric’s murder case, and Godbee said information from those who might know something has been slow to help investigators. The baby’s relatives said they have no idea who shot into the house or why it happened.
At times, Wilkins has felt out of control since the baby was murdered and she is, understandably, overwhelmed with grief. At a March protest on Hart Plaza, where 2,000 people gathered to call for justice in the murder of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Florida boy who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch patrolman, Wilkins was hysterical, yelling “What about our kids?” repeatedly.
She is pleading for change, even if it means President Barack Obama sending in the National Guard to help police control the violence before the number of murders continue to rise with summer heat.
“This is baby Iraq,” Wilkins said, her body trembling as she spoke. “Where are our troops?”
Godbee said Federal intervention isn’t warranted, but he is concerned about summer violence. The chief wants to radically change how afternoon and midnight patrol shifts are organized to combat crime.
Police officers, who have just been asked to take a 10 percent pay cut, would work 12-hour shifts for 14 days a month, but the change would require union approval. Godbee also is working to reestablish police precincts from the department’s current district office model. Geographically, a district covers the area of two or more precincts.
Godbee said the summer shift plan wouldn’t require overtime pay and would result in 150 officers available during 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., peak crime hours.
“I anticipate a long, hot summer,” he said.
A Man with A Plan
But the murder spike may have had an unexpected benefit to police, Godbee said. Cold weather months have a cabin fever effect, and some criminals wait until it gets warm to act. But since March felt like summer, they may have gotten that out of their systems with the unseasonably warm temperatures, he said.
“The weather has been so moderate,” he said. “I don't expect that same spike.”
However, Godbee, who is entering his second full summer as chief, is taking no chances. Already his department was part of a multi-jurisdictional task force that targeted people with outstanding warrants for serious violent acts, or are parole or probation violators previously convicted of serious violent crimes.
“We are not going to wait for them to commit another crime,” Godbee said.
Other steps Godbee has undertaken include empowering inspectors to run precincts and making them accountable for crime in their precinct areas. To help get more officers on the street, he took criticism for closing precincts to the public after 4 p.m.
The chief also requires victims of non-emergency crimes, such as a garage or car burglary, to call in incidents rather than sending an officer.