I have been generally supportive of what Mayor Dave Bing has done so far. He’s made hard decisions that, we hope, will put Detroit in a better place than where he found it. With that said, he’s made one error that needs immediate rectification: public safety.
One would need four hands to count the number of times Mayor Bing has said that public safety is his number one priority (as it should be). However, actions speak louder than words. With the severe reduction of the police force, the reduction in their pay, and now the news that in the near future, the city will only operate a mere 46,000 street lights (down from an available amount of 88,000), the future image of Detroit is starting to look unnecessarily bleak. How do we expect to lower the city’s crime rate when we are slashing two of the most important factors used in stopping crime and ensuring safety – a robust police force and street lights? It just doesn’t make sense.
The gravity of the city’s troubled finances is clear, and the necessity of cutting every department’s budget should be evident to all. With that said, a line must be drawn at the point where cuts make a city legitimately unsafe and cause the brave men and women of the Detroit police department to be financially unable to sustain themselves and their families.
The plan to light only the areas with the highest population concentrations makes sense in theory, but not in practice. This plan inherently means that areas where people travel, but do not necessarily live, will be either inadequately lit or totally unlit. The citizens of Detroit traveling to and from school or work at early or late hours will do so without the benefit of street lights, thus making themselves significantly more vulnerable.
The point is this – the mayor must back up his “public safety is our #1 priority” statement with the dollars to prove it.