It’s the crime, stupid.
My Politics colleague, James Dickson, is worked up today and for good reason. Detroit, The Murder Capital, is a back – yet you wouldn’t know it from media coverage.
“Detroit has serious public safety issues. Dimmed futures, dark streets . . . easy availability of guns and almost no fear among criminals that they will ever be caught,” writes Dickson. “None of the deterrents one would expect in a major American city exist here.”
One of those missing deterrents is sunlight. Despite a staggering 53 murders per 100,000 citizens in 2012 – a rate worse than the bloody ‘70s and over twice the rate of New York City’s worst years in the ‘80s – those homocides rarely made the front page or the evening news (Fox 2’s dogged Charlie LeDuff aside).
Businesswoman Emily Doerr’s mugging outside her Woodbridge neighborhood home near WayneState has created a ripple because crime isn’t supposed to happen in “the downtown square mile” which city leaders promote as Detroit’s renaissance (arming it to the teeth with security). Doerr’s tale has buzz because it’s an anomaly – a rare crime downtown.
But the outrage is what has become routine – the daily murder and mayhem in Detroit’s other 137 square miles. That is the tragedy of Detroit’s debt – it is squeezing out essential services to fight crime. That is the tragedy of Detroit’s political culture – crime isn’t the obsession of every City Council meeting. That is the tragedy of Detroit’s population decline – it won’t come back until the city is serious about the above.
“New York City, which has 11 times the population and only had 32 more homicides in 2012, has none of those dynamics working against it,” write Dickson.
But New York too was once unlivable. Public and media outrage eventually spawned bold leadership by Mayor Giuliani to bring meaningful policing reform (in 30 years, NYC’s murder rate has gone from 24 per 100,000 to 6 even as Detroit has remained stuck at 53). The answers aren’t a mystery. The mystery is why the taking of every human life in The Murder Capital isn’t a front page headline.
Every day. Every murder. Shine the light.