Ralph Godbee, Chief of the Detroit Police Department, announced on Friday that crime in Detroit was down for 2011 in all categories except for homicides, which saw a 12% increase over 2010. The question is: will anyone in Detroit believe him?
I'm sure there are some folks in the suburbs, who never see any part of Detroit other than the sports stadiums, the casinos and possibly the Wayne State Police Patrol Zone, who might be tempted to believe him. However, I cannot find a single person in any of Detroit's regular neighborhoods who believes that crime is going down in our community.
I have talked to dozens of Detroit residents since this press conference happened. Everyone that I've talked to in recent days has either was a victim of crime during 2011 or knows someone well was. Less than half of the crime victims that I talked to actually filed a police report. Because no police report was filed, those incidents never made it into the Detroit Police Department's statistics.
Very few Detroit residents have any confidence that the Detroit Police Department will be able to solve a crime that is reported to them. The sad fact is that Chief Godbee's desire to keep his administrative and command ranks flush have compromised Detroit's front-line operations. This, in turn, leaves them largely unable to respond to crime with anything other than a report that the victim can file with their insurance company.
If one doesn't need a police report for their insurance claim, or the crime isn't something that an insurance claim can address, then a great many Detroiters don't believe it's worth the effort to file a police report. This creates the illusion that crime is down in Detroit at a time when residents and business owners know first-hand that it is up.
Regardless, Chief Godbee feels a need to take credit for doing something about crime. It's a shame he isn't able to actually do something about crime rather than simply try to take credit for improvements that never really happened.