Thursday, January 03, 2013

Benny Napoleon, Palmer Woods, and the Future of Detroit

Benny Napoleon - Press Photo
Wayne County Sheriff and mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon set off a flurry of controversy when he remarked to reporters that the Palmer Woods neighborhood isn't really a part of Detroit. His remarks were a not so subtle swipe at fellow mayoral candidate Mike Duggan who moved from his longtime home in Livonia to Palmer Woods so he could run for Mayor of Detroit. Sheriff Napoleon has since backpedaled, but that hasn't stopped the criticism of him.

With so many people rushing to criticize him for his comments about Palmer Woods, though, I think it would be a good idea to take a look at some numbers. In the past week, there was 1 crime reported to the Detroit Police Department in the Palmer Woods neighborhood. In contrast, during the same time period, there were 4 burglaries, 2 armed robberies, 1 larceny from an automobile, and 2 assaults near my house in Warrendale.

That is a dramatic difference in crime rates between the neighborhoods; one that is nothing if not statistically significant.

I don't want to belittle our neighbors in other parts of Detroit. We need them. However, the fact remains that life in places like Palmer Woods are very different from what they are in most of the city.

We need to find a way to move the entire city of Detroit forward. We need to respect and value every single person who lives here. Most of all, we need to have the courage to be honest with ourselves.

Life is different in Palmer Woods, the Villages, and Midtown. This isn't to vilify the people who live there, but we are doing ourselves a disservice if we ignore the reality of this situation.

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