Cases of justifiable homicide up 79 percent in Detroit

    A new iPad-centric magazine called The Daily launched a few days ago. And, unsurprisingly, one of their first articles was about Detroit. (Nothing, after all, attracts readers like a nicely written piece of Motor City ruin porn.) I’m having a little trouble taking the magazine seriously, as they refer to themselves as “a category first: a tablet-native national news brand,” but I’m finding the statistics they cite in this article, which is about the fact that more and more people seem to be taking justice into their own hands in Detroit, to be worthy of our consideration. Here’s a clip.

    …Justifiable homicide in the city shot up 79 percent in 2011 from the previous year, as citizens in the long-suffering city armed themselves and took matters into their own hands. The local rate of self-defense killings now stands 2,200 percent above the national average. Residents, unable to rely on a dwindling police force to keep them safe, are fighting back against the criminal scourge on their own. And they’re offering no apologies.

    “We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily.

    The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.

    “I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”

    How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves.

    In this city of about 700,000 people, the number of cops has steadily fallen, from about 5,000 a decade ago to fewer than 3,000 today. Detroit homicides — the second-highest per capita in the country last year, according to the FBI — rose by 10 percent in 2011 to 344 people…

    As for the claim about the justifiable homicide rate jumping 79 percent, it appears to be true, but the numbers, while clearly terrible, are smaller than I would have assumed from the headline. There were, according to the records of the Detroit Police Department, 19 cases of justifiable homicide in 2010. That number jumped to 34 in 2011. I don’t know that these numbers clearly demonstrate that Detroit is completely lawless, but it’s certainly a metric to keep an eye on, and one that I hadn’t considered before.

    Ironically, there’s probably an up-side to this for the Detroit police department, as these cases of justifiable homicide will bring up their percentage of solved murders, which, as I understand it, is presently one of the worst in the country. I haven’t looked into it much since the murder of my friend Jeremy Waggoner in Detroit, but I believe, the last time I checked, about 80% of the murder committed in the city were were going unsolved. (Jeremy’s case, by the way, has yet to be solved.)

    At any rate, I think this is especially interesting as a number of communities around the state of Michigan, including Ypsilanti, are drastically cutting police services… Are we likely to see the number of justifiable homicide cases spike across the state? And, if so, can that be seen as an indicator that we’re finally becoming that libertarian paradise the Tea Partiers have been praying for?

    update: OK, according to this article from 2010, Detroit police were, at least at that time, solving 21% of their murder cases.

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      35 Comments

      1. Posted February 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        For some reason, the term “justifiable homicide” isn’t sitting well with me. I think it’s because I’m not sure that this sort of thing would be considered “justifiable homicide” should a case ever come to trial. When I took my CCW classes, they were VERY careful to explain that if you shoot someone–even if they are in your home, in your room, whatever–you are probably going to get arrested and charged. You may be exonerated later on, but it’s not a given. Of course, a jury can do whatever it wants and if you get enough fed up Detroiters on your jury, they may give you what you probably deserve, which is a medal. But with the jury pool coming from all of Wayne County, I don’t know.

        Sorry to be nitpicky!!!

      2. Erika
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

        Nope, since 2006, there is no legal need to retreat in the face of threat. See below. Also, welcome to a world without out adequate policing. I say, let’s all band together to pay for appropriate policing so that we don’t have to make these kinds of choices ourselves. I would much rather pay more in taxes than live like this.

        SELF-DEFENSE ACT (EXCERPT)
        Act 309 of 2006
        780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.
        Sec. 2.
        (1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:

        (a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.

        (b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.

        (2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.

      3. Erika
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        I just looked at the article’s photo of a private security guard from “Threat Management Group” and that reminds me: to all of the people that say things like “you can’t raise taxes on people who are struggling to get by as it is” and “I pay enough already” I would like to point out that someone is paying for “TMG” to patrol specific neighborhoods. So, in other words, the people that can afford to will 1) move or 2) hire private security out of their own pockets.

        This leaves the most vulnerable among us to defend themselves by whatever means necessary when there is inadequate policing. Since income taxes are tied to income, those among us who can least afford it pay less (or nothing if they are on fixed incomes, unemployment, etc).

        Income taxes are less regressive forms of taxation than property millages and they will bring in enough revenue to prevent unacceptable losses in city services. It’s socially just and responsible to pay a little more to make sure that the most vulnerable among us are just as protected as those with means would be.

        The socially just, responsible, and pro-active among us will vote YES to SAVE Ypsilanti!

      4. Thom Elliott
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        “I plan on taking one of them out”. An elderly woman relishing the potential opportunity to kill her attackers…its so funny when pinched-face white politicians talk about the so-called social safetynet, or our derisively labled “welfair state”, “nanny state” or the openly racist “entitlement society”. It is open warfair on the streets, running gun battles, no ambulences, the poor/disabled/elderly have to violently fend for themselves in postindustrial ruins, blocks of empty houses stretching out where no one can hear you scream, and no one will come if you are raped/robbed/shot. This the anwser to our entitlement society, let them all die, and the good lord Jesus the Lord of Hosts will sort them out.

      5. Burt Reynolds
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        I work in some of the rougher patches of Detroit. I once saw two kids (probably around 8-9,) light a dog on fire on the sidewalk in broad daylight. A group of adults stood about 10 feet away, and didn’t do anything. Obviously that image has stuck with me for some time, and will continue to do so.

        I love sports. I love going to all of the Tigers, Lions, and Pistons games I can. I love gambling, and enjoy the casinos. But, God. I hate Detroit with a passion otherwise. Just shitty, shitty, corrupt people. And no, I’m not generalizing. If I were, the city wouldn’t be in the shape it is.

      6. Erika
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Burt, I have also seen some horrific things with regard to animals in Detroit. The most vulnerable among us – children, the elderly and animals suffer the most. It’s heartbreaking that kids grow up with no empathy what so ever and learn that the suffering of others can be entertainment. Those “adults” who witnessed this are sociopaths and their attitude is exactly why there is an unsolved murder rate of 80%. Snitches get stitches and mind your own damn business.

      7. Edward
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Don’t worry, everything will be better once the police stations go “virtual” in Detroit next week.

        http://www.freep.com/article/20120131/NEWS01/201310382/Detroit-Police-Chief-Godbee-announces-virtual-precinct-plan-go-into-effect-Monday

      8. Eel
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        The entrepreneur in me is telling me to open a gun store. I’m trying to resist him. (He’s an asshole.)

      9. Demetrius
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        “The city’s wealthier enclaves have hired private security firms. Intimidating men in armored trucks patrol streets lined with gracious old homes in a scene more likely seen in Mexico City than the United States.”

        Welcome to the future … coming soon to a community near you.

      10. Star Child
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Well it’s a good thing the city is getting Robocop. In all seriousness though, I have just about given up on the city. It was bad 30 years ago when I was a kid and my dad still lived at his child hood home by 6 mile & Davison but it’s way worse now aside from downtown. Moving out of the Detroit area was one of the better decisions I have made.

      11. anonymous
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        …….anxiously awaiting EOS’s take on this.

      12. Brainless
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        “…and they will bring in enough revenue to prevent unacceptable losses in city services. ”

        Bullshit. Nobody has said that the income tax will stop “unacceptable losses”. In fact, everybody concedes that the losses will continue. The income tax is a punt – pure and simple. If passed, we’ll be in the exact same place 4 or 5 years from now. It’s not a solution. It’s not OK. Stop lying.

      13. Emma
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        I’m fabricating a bullet-proof vest from tax receipts, using envelope glue as adhesive…

      14. Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Erika & Burt…you two are killing me :( :( That makes me so sad :(

        The teachers at my school try to pick up any stray dogs we find…some have Animal Control on their speed dial.

      15. John Galt
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        I like that we’re empowering people to take responsibility for their own safety. It’s a good thing. And it saves the tax payers money. For the money the average Detroiter spends to support the police, he could buy a new sawed-off shotgun each year and a number of stabbing implements. I just wish that we’d go the step further, and, on the off chance that the police do apprehend a criminal, empower the people of Detroit to form lynch mobs to drag them from the jail to a hanging tree, thereby saving the money associated with a trial.

      16. Emma
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        @ Burt
        What did you do when you saw the dog lit on fire?
        @ Erika
        It’s not clear if you were an eye witness to the crimes against children and animals you mention but if you were, what did you do to help?

      17. j
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        The stats nerd in me would like to point out that with only two years of data it’s hard to say if the increase in justifiable homicide is statistically significant. Maybe the number fluctuates wildly year to year?

      18. Anonymous Mike
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Burt not only saved the dog, but he allowed it to live for several years, curled up on his head.

        http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gSARXodWtoo/TbbYTIRa9bI/AAAAAAAAAsg/6_LlYR3NvkQ/s1600/burtreynolds.jpg

      19. alan2102
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Mark: “a number of communities around the state of Michigan, including Ypsilanti, are drastically cutting police services… Are we likely to see the number of justifiable homicide cases spike across the state? And, if so, can that be seen as an indicator that we’re finally becoming that libertarian paradise the Tea Partiers have been praying for?”

        As ignorant, reactionary and proto-fascistic as the TPers really are, one would think you could come up with a better swipe to take at them. There are plenty of valid targets, but this is not one. TPers rail against a vaguely-conceived “big government”, but I can assure you that — whatever stupid shit they have in mind (“welfare cheats” — particularly black, bloated DHHS payrolls, whatever) — they are NOT suggesting any roll-back of basic local services like police and fire protection. Same with the average large-l Libertarian, with rare exceptions.

      20. alan2102
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        J: “The stats nerd in me would like to point out that with only two years of data it’s hard to say if the increase in justifiable homicide is statistically significant. Maybe the number fluctuates wildly year to year?”

        Seems to me that the absolute numbers are much too small. No statistical power. The observation could be meaningful with an increase of absolute numbers by 1-2 orders of magnitude — like nationwide, or regional.

      21. Mr. X
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Alan, you must not spend very much time here. Every time the subject of police funding comes up here, the Tea Party contingent from the Township chimes in to say that they’d rather be responsible for protecting their own homes than pay for more cops on the streets.

      22. Glen S.
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Five years ago, when I was out campaigning to help pass a City Income Tax in Ypsilanti, I actually had a neighbor tell me he didn’t think he should have to pay any City taxes. At all.

        When I asked him how he proposed to pay for services, even basic things such as re-paving streets, etc., he told me he thought neighbors should just get together and rent a truck, buy a few bags of cement, and “do it ourselves.”

        I don’t think he was kidding, either.

      23. Erika
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        Well, Emma, my work with the home-bound elderly as a social worker in SW Detroit exposed me to a lot of things that I don’t really feel the need to go into here. My work caring for the dead in Detroit also showed me how vulnerable people can be at the end of their lives. I have rescued at least a dozen animals from deadly situations and I have been longtime supporter of rescue organizations in Detroit, Detroit Dog Rescue in particular. I’m sure they could use the support of people like you, Emma. http://detroitdogrescue.com/

      24. Erika
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Brainless, unless you have an alternative plan, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Some new revenue coming in is certainly better than no new revenue coming in. Yes, there will still be cuts, but we will be able to maintain a basic, minimum level of stability and service. Without new revenue we will not. There are no lies in that statement.

        This city has a chance to come together, support each other and ride this through. What is our other option? We have enough people who care enough about this city to make this happen. If you don’t want to be part of the solution – the ONLY solution that is being put forward, then what is your plan? Trolling isn’t helpful. This is serious.

        It is time to stand together and save Ypsilanti because we can’t each do this alone.

      25. alan2102
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Mr. X: I meant that they do not favor wholesale dismantling of such services; I did not make that clear. They may indeed oppose given budgets or staffing levels or what have you, depending; i.e. might favor reductions in what is perceived to be overspending (and, for that matter, they might be right, in given instances). I’ve been watching these people for quite a while, and maybe I am wrong, but what I said is what I’ve observed, apart from this blog.

      26. alan2102
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Mr X: more directly: no, I don’t spend much time here. Almost everything I say is based on reading and observations elsewhere.

      27. alan2102
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Erica: “If you don’t want to be part of the solution – the ONLY solution that is being put forward, then what is your plan?”

        I suggested a part of a plan, to supplement the career firefighting force with non-professional volunteers — something that is done widely in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world (e.g. Germany), and it works just fine. It could keep costs to a minimum while keeping service uncompromised. I also indicated my readiness to be a very direct part of the solution, by volunteering for same myself. My suggestion went over with slightly less than the bouyancy of a lead balloon. {thud!} But anyway, the point is that yours is not the “ONLY solution that is being put forward”. It may be a very good and important part of a solution, but it is not the only one. There are possibilities other than throwing money at problems. Why not acknowledge them?

      28. Emma
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        @Erika
        What kind of people am I?

      29. Erika
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

        Emma, you are the kind of person who obviously cares so much about children and animals that you felt compelled to ask what I did to help them. I thought you might like to help, too.

        “It’s not clear if you were an eye witness to the crimes against children and animals you mention but if you were, what did you do to help?”

      30. Erika
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:43 am | Permalink

        Alan, I think you should take your ideas to city council or the fire department. I doubt that these groups are scanning Maynard’s blog for ideas to save the city. They can talk with you about what the pros and cons are. Unless you work for Ypsi’s fire department, there may be details that you aren’t aware of which could make your plan more or less viable. If you are willing to step up and fight fires, then take this little step of moving your idea off of this blog and into the real world.

        The only solutions that have been put forward in any meaningful way are the two proposals for income and debt millage. That’s what we currently have to work with, those are the proposals we understand. I didn’t have any better proposals, so I’m going with these. If you think yours is better, then do something with it – we need all the help we can get.

      31. alan2102
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

        Erica: I think that taking such ideas to the City Council would be premature. I don’t want to waste their time with something for which there is no community support. I was testing the waters to see if there might be some interest and support amongst the ypsi-conscious and ypsi-active crowd here — and what better place is there? What I found was that there appears to be no interest, at least from the discussion heretofore. Not only no positive interest, but negative interest, in the form of accusations that I’m working for the 1% and trying to eliminate good-paying jobs, angry denunciations of the very notion of non-professional involvement, etc. Taking it to the city council as a formal proposal at this early moment is, in my view, doing things in the wrong order. The people must lead before the leaders can follow.

        By the way: if city council and the various city departments are not scanning Maynard’s blog for ideas to save the city, then they ought to be. They ought to be exposing themselves to a wide range of ideas being generated by the people of ypsi, and be participating in the discussion. Democracy is, in a good measure, a conversation. Online fora like this one are a great way to have ongoing “town hall meetings” without the problems and limitations of meat-space meetings (physical meetings). Would you agree?

      32. Erika
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I agree, Alan. I didn’t mean take them a formal proposal, I just meant ask one of them to have a beer with you and chat about it. That is how I have gotten most of my information or leads on how to look up information. It was coffee, though, not beer. I have also met up with a council member up at the dog park and chatted about stuff. That is what I really like about our elected folks – they are really available if you just contact them. I have had NUMEROUS email discussions, questions answered, etc with lightning fast response times, esp from the Mayor.

      33. Eel
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Speaking of justifiable homicide.

        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/tennessee-father-murders-couple-pair-deleted-adult-daughter-friend-facebook-authorities-article-1.1019524

      34. jesse
        Posted February 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        @ alan2021

        The national justifiable homicides reported by the FBI was about 278 according to their UCR for 2010 and about 266 in 2009. In 2008 it was 265, 2007 it was 257, and in 2006 it was 258. For comparison, justifiable police shootings nationwide were 387 in 2010, 414 in 2009, and 378 in 2008 . The point is that 34 is pretty I compared to the national total of 278.

        http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl15.xls

      35. Meta
        Posted July 19, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        It’s going to get worse.

        This is from today’s Detroit Free Press:

        The news that Mayor Dave Bing imposed a new union contract prompted the Detroit Police Officers Association to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday evening.

        As they walked into UAW Chrysler Local 1700 on 8 Mile near Van Dyke, police officers had questions about what the changes will mean in the short and long runs.

        The meeting was closed to the public, but some officers spoke to the Free Press about their concerns. Nearly all said the changes will have a negative effect on the department.

        Tom Grzywacz, 41, of Southgate, who has been a Detroit police officer for nearly 14 years, said officers work hard to try to keep the city safe. Last year, he made more than 200 felony arrests.

        “It’s not just about the police officers. It’s about the people. The people of Detroit deserve better,” he said.

        Grzywacz said his base pay was $53,000 last year, but he grossed $74,000 with overtime and court pay.

        “We’re losing a lot,” he said.

        Some officers said their families will be hit hard.

        “My wife just took a 20% pay cut at her job,” said Jason Burke, 34, of St. Clair.

        He said he already works a part-time job to support the couple’s three children.

        “I’ll be looking for another (second) full-time job,” Burke said.

        Phillip Curtis, 42, of St. Clair Shores and his wife, Audrey Curtis, have been Detroit police officers for 18 years. The cut will sock their budget hard.

        “Everything coming out of this paycheck is double,” he said.

        He said the family may have to consider dropping cable TV or downsizing to one car because their two children are their priority.

        Curtis said he is suspicious of why Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder are imposing work rules that ignore such things as seniority. He said Bing’s contract was supposed to be about balancing the budget.

        “What does that have to do with your finances?” Curtis said. “Why would you change work rules?”

        He said he suspects another agenda.

        “I believe the governor is trying to break the union,” Curtis said.

        Bing announced Wednesday morning that he would impose the union contracts after the City Council voted Tuesday to reject his recommended cuts and contract terms.

        “This will set us back 20 years,” Curtis said. “We fought hard to get where we are now.”

        Wil Hambright, a 14-year veteran, said he was concerned that if he’s injured while off-duty, the benefit cuts would mean that he’s more likely to burn through his sick time and may be forced to work without pay.

        “It’s going to be extremely difficult,” Hambright said.

        He’s also concerned that retirees may lose health and dental benefits. “Me, looking forward, I have to think about that,” Hambright said.

        http://www.freep.com/article/20120719/NEWS01/207190560/Detroit-police-officers-say-pay-cuts-will-hurt-department-residents?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

      4 Trackbacks

      1. [...] inclined to consider gun ownership. As you’ll recall from our conversation the other day, the justifiable homicide rate is up by 79% this year in Detroit, indicating that, more and more, people are reaching for their guns instead of calling 911. And [...]

      2. [...] we’re going to see more and more of this in the future. As we’ve discussed here before, the instances of “justifiable homicide” are already way up in Detroit, and I imagine that everywhere in the nation will be following suit, from the poorest urban [...]

      3. [...] before.We’ve talked about living in a post public safety world, and the prospect of having to shoot our own bad guys and put out our own fires, like good, little Libertarians, should additional revenues not be [...]

      4. [...] the past half-dozen years about living in a post public safety world, and the prospect of having to shoot our own bad guys and put out our own fires, like good, little “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” [...]

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