By Steve Neavling
While crime continues to batter Detroit neighborhoods, Midtown has managed to reduce crime and increase its population.
Crime in the gentrified entertainment and university hub has fallen by more than a third since 2008, the Free Press reported today.
Authorities credit the success on a collaborative effort with local police and crime experts to identify criminals and violent hot spots. The result, authorities said, is a safer Midtown for Michigan Tech University students and a growing number of people moving into lofts and refurbished apartments in historic buildings.
The occupancy rate in Midtown is about 98%, compared to much more dismal rates in the city’s struggling neighborhoods.
To be fair, Midtown has an advantage over the rest of the city – a fully staffed Wayne State University Police Department. While the rest of the city relies on a city police force that is being weakened with layoffs, Wayne State is able to blanket Midtown with police.
With few exceptions, Midtown cops are known for being polite and helpful to residents. Officers arrive within 10 minutes of a reported crime and generally show respect to Midtown residents.
In Detroit’s neighborhoods, police are more aggressive, bigoted and intolerant. Take the time a drug addict pointed a gun to the back of my head or the time undercover Detroit cops slammed me against a squad car because I “was in the wrong neighborhood.” In the former incident, police never showed up. When I finally tracked down a police car, the cops didn’t want to write a crime report, which means the mugging never happened as far as criminal records go.
Tact and restraint go a long way.
It’s too bad the rest of Detroit doesn’t learn a lesson from Wayne State.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.