If I want peace in the world, please let it start with me. — Catholic hymn
You can lure major corporations, build a river walk, and construct plush condos and studio apartments but without a public safety presence, business won’t thrive and residents won’t stay.
A recent poll funded by the Thompson Foundation found that the lack of police is Detroit’s biggest crime problem.
As the Michigan-based association representing 4,000 retailers including more than 400 businesses in the city of Detroit, crime is not only a major concern; it is the number one concern. In fact it has been 6 months since our former Chairman Fred Dally was brutally shot and killed at his store in Detroit.
He had worked in the neighborhood of Dexter and Chicago for more than 30 years. Even with a $50,000 reward offered up by our association, the Detroit Police Department still has no suspects in custody.
Everybody knows public safety in Detroit has become the number one issue facing the city. Everybody agrees we need more law enforcement personnel in the field.
The Detroit Police Department is at an all-time low of 2,500 officers and according to a few experts, including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, we need at least 4,500 officers in order to safeguard the residents in this large geographical area which has scattered population depending on the neighborhood. Obviously, with the city’s financial woes and lack of leadership, more officers on the street seems to be a dream. How will Detroit ever make a comeback if we cannot even insure public safety?
Public safety is not a jurisdictional issue. It is a regional issue that requires collaboration on all levels of government. Wayne State University has been successful creating a safety net because it has taken a three-tiered approached. You have Wayne State Police, Detroit Police and the Wayne County Sheriff’s department all in and around the WSU campus. That is not true for the entire city.
The city needs a police presence from Detroit Police, Wayne County Sheriff and the State Police and from the federal government as well. All working together, all working hand in hand. Perhaps if police were more visible and more responsive Fred Daly’s killers would be behind bars today or better yet, he would still be alive.
When you stop funding public safety programs, crime increases and business cannot operate efficiently. Everyone in Detroit is at risk — whether you live there, attend school or do business in the city — your life is at a higher risk than it is in other areas of the region.
There has been so much talk about the problem and little action. Wayne State has proven what works — collaboration. We need a layered approach to public safety and police presence at all times all over the city from various police agencies. People cannot agree on the next president, we may come from different backgrounds and we may see the world differently, but we all can agree that public safety needs to be our No. 1 priority if Detroit ever has a chance of being a great city again.
Auday Arabo is the president and CEO of the Midwest Independent Retailers Association, a Michigan-based trade association representing 4,000 retailers.
From The Detroit News: