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LeDuff: To stop being America's deadliest city, Detroit needs a plan

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By Charlie LeDuff
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DETROIT (WJBK) -- The 2012 crime numbers are in and they're horrible.  Detroit suffered its second deadliest year in its history when taking the size of its population into account.

Excluding three people killed by police in the line of duty, Detroit suffered 408 total homicides in 2012 with an estimated population of 695,000 people.  The murder rate was only higher in 1987.

Now Detroit Police officials want you to think it's really not so bad, removing 22 bodies from the official count claiming those killing as justifiable, but no other major American city does that, and even if you do, Detroit still suffered its second deadliest year.

"We've heard blame about guns, parents, the media, unemployment, poverty, what about the leadership in the department and the city?  Does anybody in this room want to take any responsibility for spiraling crime?" I asked city leaders at a news conference.

"The problem lies not only solely with the police department, it lies with the press, it lies with the principal, it lies with the preacher, and it lies with the parent, so we have got to come together as a community and start to deal with this," said Interim Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan.

Even with murder through the roof and non-fatal shootings up, as well, city leaders say there is good news.

"Our Detroit Police Department data show an overall decrease in major crime categories despite an increase in the homicide rate," said Mayor Dave Bing.

But with the police department in disarray and precincts closed after 4:00 p.m., crime experts doubt even those numbers.

"I took a class in college in lying with statistics, you know, that's always been out there.  I mean, you've got to really look yourself.  I mean, you've got to really look hard at the raw numbers, and I think that's really where the answers lie," said Andrew Arena with the Detroit Crime Commission.

"People in Detroit know what's going on, and this continuing effort to downplay or to say that crime is down in Detroit or to correct the figures is wrong, and you can't correct it until you get accurate reporting of crime," said retired Detroit Police Sergeant David Malhalab.

How does Detroit compare to other major American cities?  We're the deadliest.

According to city police sources across the country, here's a comparison of homicides:

City Total Per Capita
Detroit 408 58.7/100,000
Chicago 506 19/100,000
New York 414 5/100,000
Philadelphia 331 22/100,000
Los Angeles 297 8/100,000
Baltimore 217 35/100,000
St. Louis 113 36/100,000

*2012 is Detroit's deadliest year in per capita homicides.  In 1987 the homicide per capita rate was 63.5/100,000.*

With no plan on the horizon, the beat goes on in the Motor City.  A cab driver was shot in the head Thursday morning.  His colleagues came down to City Hall looking for answers from Mayor Bing.

"We came down here to let the mayor know that we want some police protection.  Just don't put us out here and tell us to fend for ourselves.  When we call the police department, we need for them to show up," said Peter Spivey, co-owner of Metropolitan Cab.

They were turned away, but I gave them the answer that rank and file police had given me.  In the end, it doesn't do any good blaming everybody else.  We're going to need a plan.  We're going to need police, and we need a change.

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