Detroit's Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr. issued a statement on Friday, January 13 in which he declared that, while Detroit's homicide rate had gone up by 12% in 2011, our overall crime rate had actually gone down by 8%. I, of course, put aside the obvious question of wondering whether or not one might be tempting fate by making a major announcement on a Friday the 13th. Instead, I asked if anyone believed Chief Godbee's claim that crime was down overall in Detroit.
I asked this question on Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter as well as in person at a variety of establishments throughout Detroit. In all, a total of 106 Detroiters answered my question as to whether or not they believed that crime really was down in our city. My completely unscientific polling found:
- 7 Detroiters (6.6% of respondents) said they believed Chief Godbee that crime really was down in Detroit in 2011 in comparison to the year before without any further clarification;
- 31 Detroiters in my sample (29.2% of respondents) indicated that they believed that crime was only down because of a declining population; and
- 68 Detroiters (64.2% of respondents) said that they did not believe Chief Godbee's claim at all.
I have to say that it does not bode well for Mayor Dave Bing nor Chief Godbee when such a large group of Detroiters indicate that they do not believe the Detroit Police Department's official crime statistics. Official statistics, after all, are supposed to be comprehensive, objective, and credible. When a solid majority of Detroiters don't believe them, it is indicative of a larger problem within the Bing Administration, in my opinion.
My personal opinion, in the interest of disclosure, is that Detroit has likely seen a significant drop in the number of crimes that have been reported to police. However, since my sources tell me that almost 30% of calls to 9-1-1 do not yield a response, the fact remains that there is a large amount of crime in Detroit that never makes it into our crime statistics. Unless those individuals who called 9-1-1, but did not get a police officer to show up when one was needed, took the time to go to a police station and file a report then the crime that they called 9-1-1 to report would have never made it into our statistics.
It seems highly doubtful, to me at least, that someone who wasn't able to get a response to a 9-1-1 call would take the time to file another report. Therefore, we likely have thousands of additional crimes in our city that aren't included in the official statistics. The most likely conclusion, in my estimation, is that our true live of crime in Detroit was up in 2011; not down.
I'm confident that Chief Godbee and Mayor Bing will disagree with me on this. Of course, if they could make it so that Detroit police officers showed every time that they're needed and did so in a timely manner then we would likely have a better picture of what is really happening on our streets.