muckraker report

Stabbings? Shootings? Detroit police stop reporting violent crimes to media, public

Detroit police_0783

Is Detroit suddenly safer?

You might think so by picking up the newspaper or watching TV news because police have stopped reporting most murders, shootings and other violent crimes to the media and public.

Chief Craig

Chief Craig

Instead, the police department is releasing information on successful arrests.

“It lets our citizens know that we are in fact making arrests and solving crime,” police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody told me.

In the meantime, the public is left in the dark about violent crime and wanted suspects.

The police department quietly stopped issuing the “Major Crime Summary Report” following the death of radio personality and activist, Angelo Henderson, who spoke daily about the crime report and the wanted suspects on his radio show. 

Angelo Henderson

Angelo Henderson

Police Chief James Craig, who has been criticized for changing how response times are recorded, wouldn’t comment for this story.

Detroit Police Commission Chairwoman Jessica Taylor, who is elected by the public to address these kinds of issues, said she doesn’t see the problem.

“I don’t think he is trying to hide anything,” Taylor told me, asking me to wait while she urged the police commissioner to call me back.

Chief Craig never called.

Unlike other appointed officials, Craig is immune from public pressure and accountability because he was selected by state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. 

Mayor Mike Duggan, for example, has no authority over the chief and has been asked to stay silent on most police issues.

Former Deputy Police Chief Jamie Fields said Craig’s decision to keep the public in the dark contradicts his claim that he wants a more transparent department.

“Transparency is the foundation of community policing,” Fields told me. “If you want visibility and transparency but your platform obscures or hides it by not being open to the community by not sharing information on crimes that occurred in their neighborhood, then that’s your de facto strategy; whatever else you might say about your community policing efforts, they will be perceived as a lie at worse or ironic at best.”

Orr’s spokesman Bill Nowling said the emergency manager wasn’t aware of the situation and would talk to the chief about it today.

For years, the police department released daily information about violent crimes. It included the location of the incidents, information on the victims and most important, details of the suspects.

That information was used by the media, including us, to warn the public about dangerous suspects and to map out the location of violent crimes. Now all we have are success stories.

When I asked about the shootings, I was directed to www.crimestopping.com, which maps out general crime but provides no pertinent information, such as descriptions of the suspects.

Sgt. Woody said the police department is “working to find new and innovative ways to deliver this information.”

“For example,” Woody said, “we are currently working on an app that will not only report our crime stats but allow the user to submit tips, view wanted posters and our Facebook feeds. Plus some other top secret software.”

Since Craig became chief, he pledged to create a more transparent department since crime is considered the number one reason people leave the city. But soon after taking over, Craig made dramatic changes to how police response time was recorded – a move that makes it appear as if cops are responding much quicker than they do.

Have a tip on police? Send us an e-mail at tips@motorcitymuckraker.com.

Steve Neavling

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.

  • BobNB

    Ultimately, statistics need to be released to the FBI for annual reporting, so we’ll still know hard numbers.

    I agree with the comment that the police should inform the public when dangerous known felons are at large.

  • Dust Buster

    if a person is shot in detroit and nobody seen nothin…..did someone really get shot?

  • Apple Spotcrime

    This is a tragedy. SpotCrime has been diligently mapping this data for over a year. The paid crime mapping vendor (crimemapping) specifically restricts the public and the press from manually transcribing the data. (you can’t write it down and share it) This way the data is controlled by having the vendor threaten the public and the press with a lawsuit if the data is shared. I had hoped that Detroit was taking a turn for transparency and improved government and public safety.

    Colin Drane – Founder – SpotCrime

    • http://www.motorcitymuckraker.com/ muckraker_abby

      That is absolutely abhorrent. Thank you for sharing that information. What is the best way to contact you about this?

  • David Alan Patten

    I don’t necessarily think that what they are doing is a bad idea. I think people think they are immune to the negative effects caused by non stop crime reports, negative publicity on Detroit and even violence and fictional illegal activity on T.V., but I don’t believe we are, at least as a whole. But is it ridiculous if there’s a wanted, dangerous felon, believed to be hiding in or near Detroit, and they’re not releasing photos to help catch them? Probably.

  • mytdawg

    Republicans don’t want crime news affecting their public sell out garage sale prices. Dead people don’t matter any more than the live people already in Detroit to them. All that matters is what they can grab for their corporate masters and sell back to the public at a profit repeatedly.

    • Dust Buster

      6 degrees of snyder,,,,, very well played. i admire how some of you liberals can twist something back to blame a conservative. lets see a 99% democrat run and inhabited city spirals and festers for decades. the crime and mayhem is in a vacuum. if this was an experiment on the failure of the liberal/democrat virus, detrot would be its petri dish. sealed up with the virus inside. watch it grow, replicate and get worse.

      so you get a new chief that isnt humping subordinates or taking cash but he isnt “our” chief cause that mean emergency manager came in and started doing accounting and management and other mean stuff. he is actually going after more criminals but he wasnt tight with kwame so he is bad

      i agree they need to report all of the crime in an open forum. granted 99% of the crime is perpetuated by and against obama voters and democrats. its flattering to know that only conservatives have the business acumen and capital to buy and sell things in detroit.

      p.s that “corporate masters” was a nice touch. you should round up a busload of people and some activists and go outside a place dan gilbert owns. demand they overthrow their corporate puppet master. tell those people to rise up and help detroit stay strong, democrat and proud.

      demand gilbert start a fund to open up more wig shops, party stores and shrimp shacks that take ebt cards so detroit can remain the democrat run plantation that lyndon johnson envisioned and people like conyers, cheeks, dingell, levin, ficano and kilpatricks help carry on the proud legacy of government funded democrat voting farms.

      btw i want a thirt that says “GREEDY CORPORATE MASTER”

      • Trexinmichigan

        Cross burning 8pm sharp on Saturday. Location, Northern Oakland County because that’s where this fine specimen of wasted human flesh hails from.

        • Dust Buster

          awwwwww is homie a bit butt-hurt to read the truth? im sorry i can leave my car in the drive with key in it. i can leave a bike or lawnmower in the front yard for 3 days and nights and it will still be there. i can leave all of my doors unlocked and sleep with sliding doors and windows wide open. btw that klan reference was awesome. next time mention rebel flags and a pick up truck if you want real comedic devastation

  • Tim Burke

    Steve encourage readers to spread the word to you and your staff if they are a victim of a crime or have witnessed a crime,get date,time,place,description and police response time,also photo’s. put a call out on your page and keep it there as a crime reporting section of your page. you will be surprised once the word gets out that there is a reporter who is posting crime stats.

    • http://www.motorcitymuckraker.com/ muckraker_abby

      That is a fantastic idea, Tim. I’ll get to work on that right now.

    • nitrodrip

      The people have spoken Steve and this does seem reasonable,

  • bebow

    I don’t believe this was Chief Craig’s idea. There are others here with a greater interest in keeping the public in the dark.

    • muckraker_steve

      Bebow, if the order is coming from above the chief’s head, they are throwing him under the bus by claiming they don’t know about it. Let’s see how this meeting with the EM and police chief go today.