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Detroit

Detroit citizens have to protect themselves now that police funding is nearly nonexistent

Sunday, June 16, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Detroit, citizen patrols, debt default


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(NaturalNews) The city of Detroit, once one of the greatest examples of American manufacturing prowess, has become a decrepit shell of its former self, wracked by successive administrations mired in corruption and owing to powerful employee unions which helped themselves to city coffers at taxpayers' expense.

Decades of indulgent city councils and crooked mayors who engaged in economic terrorism against residents have left a legacy of decay so bad that today the city cannot even afford to pay enough police officers to adequately protect Detroiters.

As such, residents - in cooperation with the Detroit Police Department - are being forced to protect themselves. Per Bloomberg News:

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.

'Nobody's going to move back to Detroit...'

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who was appointed to his position by the state of Michigan to supercede the mayor and city council, says protecting the public is Job No. 1 as he reorganizes economic priorities for the city, which is running a $380 million deficit and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

In order to turn around the city's finances, he says Detroit simply has to stop losing residents (read taxpayers); the city's population has declined by one-quarter since 2000.

"Nobody's going to move back to Detroit as long as people don't have a sense of security," volunteer Lorenzo Blount said during his morning rounds in the west-side Grandmont area, as reported by Bloomberg News. "That's what we're trying to add in our neighborhood in our little way."

In its heyday, Detroit was an "economic powerhouse," home to the world's largest automobile manufacturing center and boasting a population of 1.8 million residents. Today, the population has fallen to 701,000; entire neighborhoods have been lost to blight; the automobile industry has shed jobs; poverty has increased - and corruption has taken its toll as well. What's more, successive city administrations lavished benefits on unionized city workers, which is costing hundreds of millions the city can no longer afford.

In 2009 police ranks declined from 3,350 to about 2,500; interim Chief Chester Logan has said that the city must hire new officers to replenish a force losing some 25 personnel a month to retirement.

In the meantime, the renewed citizen volunteer program is being seen as a stopgap, Bloomberg reports:

In 2011, the dwindling department took over the 30-year-old neighborhood volunteer program to forge a more direct relationship and institute tighter standards, said Second Deputy Melvin Turner, who oversees the groups. Members, who now must pass criminal background checks, are paid from a $270,000 annual fund for mileage and incidental costs such as vehicle signs.

'In order for evil people to succeed...'

The communities themselves are getting creative when it comes to financing the patrols; they are petitioning city fathers to allow them to place levy assessments on homeowners to pay for more patrols. If the city signs off, a majority of homeowners would have to agree to the flat fee, which would then become mandatory.

Says Karen Moore, a community security manager for the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, a non-profit group of five neighborhoods backing the patrol levy, "Police can't be on every corner. You should be able to walk your dog, push kids in a stroller or use the parks. We don't want a handful of knuckleheads to take away our quality of life."

Turner says data show criminal activity diminishes where there are active patrols. But there is a lot of work to do to get crime rates down to acceptable levels, say officials.

Detroit suffered 16,000 burglaries (that were reported at least) in 2011; Philadelphia, by comparison, suffered only 12,000, and Philly has double Detroit's population, according to FBI crime stats. "For all property crimes, Detroit ranked sixth - 6,144 per 100,000 residents - among U.S. cities with populations of 300,000 or more," Bloomberg reported.

"It's very important for people to get involved," said Muhsin "Coach" Muhammad I, a patrol organizer in Grandmont. "In order for evil people to succeed, good people need to do absolutely nothing."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.bloomberg.com

http://usnews.nbcnews.com

http://www.forbes.com

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