The Dark Side of Detroit

Here are some of the darker things about Detroit, MI the Murder City.

There are currently over 12,000 abandoned homes in Detroit.
It’s the only city in the history of the United States to hit a population of over 1,000,000 residents and then subsequently fall back under that number.
The city has lost more than half of its population since the 1950’s.
Over 30% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line.
Over 36 square miles (58 square kilometers) of land sits vacant, which is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco.
The city tears down between 1,500 and 2,000 homes a year, which only keeps pace with the problem and doesn’t cut into the backlog of the 12,000 abandoned homes.
Things are getting so bad that people are moving their deceased loved ones’ bodies out of the city into other cemeteries.

Love quadrangle? Ex-Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans says his girlfriend had affair with married Chief Ralph Godbee

Former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans says his girlfriend was involved with his married replacement — and he has text messages to prove it.

Evans’ relationship with Lt. Monique Patterson, a subordinate, was reportedly one of many deciding factors in his forced resignation. Evans was replaced by Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee, who is serving in the post on an interim basis.

The fallout from Evans and Patterson’s relationship — which was displayed all over Facebook — allegedly led to one police officer being wrongfully demoted. That officer has since filed suit against the city.

Now, Evans has hit back, telling news outlets that he would be given a city position if he kept secret an alleged affair between Godbee and Patterson. Evans has reportedly showed top city officials the texts between the two officers.

“The text messages clearly show that there was a personal relationship between Chief Godbee and Monique, and that there certainly is the strong implication that he was going to help her career in conjunction with the relationship that they were having, attorney Mark Zausmer, who represents Evans, told Fox 2.

Deputy Detroit Mayor Saul Green told WXYZ that he has seen the texts, and that they are of a “personal nature.”

As for Godbee, he has released a statement obtained by WDIV acknowledging the texts from “my personal phone” and that “I apologize to my family. I thank Mayor Bing, Deputy Mayor Green and this administration for the confidence in my professional abilities to work as Interim Chief of Police.”

Of course, if the texts are actually revealed and do compromise the careers of any of the parties involved, it wouldn’t be the city’s first text-message scandal.

Kwame Kilpatrick

The former mayor of Detroit, Michigan. Kilpatrick’s mayorship was plagued by numerous scandals and rampant accusations of corruption, with the mayor eventually resigning after being charged with ten felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to reduced charges, but with good time awarded to county jail inmates in Michigan, he was released on probation after serving 99 days. On May 25, 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months to 5 years in prison for violating his probation. He served time at the Federal Correctional Institution, Milan. After he was indicted in federal court for additional crimes related to alleged misuse of his campaign funds, Kilpatrick lobbied for a transfer from the Oaks Correctional Facility (Michigan Department of Corrections) in Manistee Township, Michigan. He is also under a new 38-charge felony indictment on additional corruption charges, in what a federal prosecutor called a “pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud” by some of Detroit’s most prominent officials.

Crime in Detroit

These stats are actually a significant reduction.
Detroit Crime rates (2010)
Homicide: 34.4
Forcible rape: 45.0
Robbery: 615.7
Aggravated assault: 1,192.1
Violent crime: 1,887.3
Burglary: 1,900.0
Larceny-theft: 2,011.7
Motor vehicle theft: 1,401.0
Arson: 120.2
Property crime: 5,312.9
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
*Compare with other cities

The Motor City experienced 418 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in 2006. That’s 47.3 murders per every 100,000 residents. Detroit also ranked high for violent crime (No. 2), robbery (No. 4) and forcible rape (No. 12).

To put it in perspective: Detroit’s murder rate is more than 8% higher than the country’s second most murderous city, Baltimore, and eight times that of the least murderous metro. More people were murdered in Detroit than in San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose combined–and each one of those cities has a bigger population than Detroit.

Detroit police routinely underreport homicides
Actual ’08 total gives city worst rate in nation
Charlie LeDuff and Santiago EsparzaThe Detroit News

Detroit — The Detroit Police Department is systematically undercounting homicides, leading to a falsely low murder rate in a city that regularly ranks among the nation’s deadliest, a Detroit News review of police and medical examiner records shows.

The police department incorrectly reclassified 22 of its 368 slayings last year as “justifiable” and did not report them as homicides to the FBI as required by federal guidelines. There were at least 59 such omissions over the past five years, according to incomplete records obtained from the police department through the Freedom of Information Act.

A thorough look at the 2008 homicide statistics reveals other omissions:

• In one case, the police reclassified a homicide as a suicide.

• Two men were stabbed to death, but were not included due to “insufficient evidence.”

• A man who was beaten to death, according to the medical examiner, died by accident, according to the police.

• A baby beaten to death never made the homicide tally, nor did a man who was found shot in the head.

What is more, records show Detroit police officers killed 10 civilians last year, a five-fold increase from 2007. That makes the Detroit department one of the most deadly in America even as it operates under federal supervision, for among other things, the use of lethal force and the illegal detention of witnesses.

Adjusting Detroit’s number to 368 homicides pushes the city’s rate to 40.7 per 100,000 residents, past the previously reported rate of 33.8 and well ahead of Baltimore’s 36.9. It makes Detroit once again the Murder Capital of cities with more than 500,000 residents.

“What’s happening here is they’re excluding justifiable homicides when they shouldn’t be. Period.” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
Tally sparks questions

The chronic undercounting not only revises Detroit’s homicide rate upward, but also raises questions about whether all killings are fully investigated and whether officials have accurate information on which to devote crime-fighting resources or gauge their effectiveness.

Detroit police officials acknowledge that they don’t include homicides that are ruled self-defense, but say that prosecutor’s decisions influence their reporting.

“There is a lot of outrage out there,” said Ron Scott, a civil rights activist and leader of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. “People call me wanting to know why the killing of their loved ones are not being investigated.”

Criminal justice experts say that perception often is a motivator for police departments to keep murder stats low. “There is a lot of pressure out there to bring crime down,” said Jon Shane, a professor of criminology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and a former supervising officer of homicide with the Newark Police Department. “No mayor wants to be mayor of the murder capital. Precinct commanders are pushed to bring down crime. Those who do, get promoted. Those who don’t, languish.”

The Detroit Homicide bureau shows that detectives responded to 423 cases of suspicious death in 2008. The number of homicides was reduced to 377 after the medical examiner ruled 45 people had died either of suicide or natural causes. Ten of those were killed by police officers, a number that’s excluded from homicide counts by federal regulators. These were removed from homicide roll and given the classification of “backed out.” The News found one other death in Detroit that was not recorded by either the police or reported to the medical examiner.

But the Detroit police reported only 306 homicides to the Michigan State Police, who forward statistics to the FBI as part of the bureau’s preliminary report released this month on crime in America. That number, the lowest in decades, immediately prompted skepticism.

Dr. Carl Schmidt, the chief Wayne County Examiner, says his office investigated 377 cases of homicide in Detroit last year, including the killings by police.

“All I can tell you is that we look at an injury and 99 percent of the time — because of the kind of injury it is — there is no question that it is homicide,” said Dr. Schmidt. “Those 377 are unequivocally homicides — death from another person’s hand. We’re careful about that. If we have any doubt, if it is not clear that the death is homicide, we will label that as indeterminate.”
How FBI defines murder

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines murder as the willful killing of one human being by another. The classification is based on police investigation and not that of a court, prosecutor’s office, medical examiner or jury. The category does not include deaths by suicide, accident or justifiable homicides. But a justifiable homicide, according to the bureau, is limited to the killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty and the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a citizen.

“There’s homicide and there’s murder,” said Detroit Police Dep. Chief James Tolbert. “Now when the medical examiner still says it’s a homicide and we go on about our investigation and (in the course of) our investigation we present documents to the prosecutor’s office, they can say it’s self-defense. It’s ruled medically a homicide. But in the eyes of the prosecutor’s office they will not charge anybody with this.”

Tolbert said that the prosecutor makes the decision about intent to kill and is ultimately the one who backs-out homicides.

“We have 26 warrants sitting at her office waiting for her to sign. We cannot count those homicides until she signs those warrants,” Tolbert said.

But FBI guidelines state: “Reporting agencies should take care to ensure that they do not classify a killing as justifiable solely on the claims of self-defense or on the action of … prosecutors” and that “agencies must report the willful killing of one individual by another, not the criminal liability of the person or persons involved.”

“It is very, very clear in the language,” Worthy said. “Lawful self-defense is still a homicide and it still has to be counted as a homicide and it still has to be reported to the FBI.”

As a matter of policy, the other top cities for murder Houston (294), Chicago (510), Philadelphia (331), Los Angeles (384), New York (523) and Baltimore (234) claim that they use the medical examiner’s numbers.

“The presumption of police reporting that someone did not die of a murder because he was killed in self-defense is not correct,” said Lee Baca, the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

The system of crime reporting works on the honor system. “The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program is a cooperative statistical effort that relies on the good-faith reporting of thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation,” according to a statement from the FBI.

The Detroit police backed-out more than just self-defense cases, records show:

• Feb. 19: Eugene Richards, 54, died of stab wounds. The police ruled insufficient evidence; the medical examiner said homicide.

• April 14: Willie Lee Thomas, 61, died of multiple stab wounds. Police ruled insufficient evidence.

• June 8: Antonio Bailey, 33, suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Police called it suicide; the medical examiner ruled homicide.

• April 7: One-year-old Promise Wilson-Jones died of abusive head-trauma according to the medical examiner. Her case was not recorded in the police tally.

• Nov. 28: Roland Jordan, 52, was found at the McNichols/Interstate-75 interchange with blunt force trauma to the head. Police called it an accident; the medical examiner ruled it a homicide.

Then there was the murder of Rico White, which appears in no official Detroit death record. White was abducted last January along with his fiancee and two children from their home in Warren. The family was released unharmed. White was found dead at McNichols and Van Dyke in Detroit with bullets in his skull. His case is being handled by Warren police but his murder was never recorded in Detroit.

From The Detroit News:

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