May 31, 2013
As crime hobbles Detroit ’s attempts to revive itself, the city is bolstering its police department by having unarmed citizens patrol the streets in a program that costs less than annual salaries and benefits for three officers.
Volunteers given radios and matching T-shirts help officers protect neighborhoods where burglaries, thefts and thugs drive away people who can’t rely on a police force that lost a quarter of its strength since 2009. With 25 patrols on the streets, the city hopes to add three each year. Meanwhile, the homicide rate continues rising.
Kevyn Orr, the Detroit emergency manager appointed by the state to supersede the mayor and city council, has called public safety crucial as he reorganizes a city running a $380 million deficit, teetering on a record municipal bankruptcy and struggling to provide services. Orr has said Detroit’s turnaround depends on reversing a population loss of more than 25 percent since 2000.
“Nobody’s going to move back to Detroit as long as people don’t have a sense of security,” said volunteer Lorenzo Blount during his morning rounds in the west-side Grandmont area. “That’s what we’re trying to add in our neighborhood in our little way.”
Full story here.