There is no reason to applaud the 11th hour budget agreement worked out between Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council. By threatening to dramatically cut the Police and Fire Departments, the council was playing Russian roulette with resident safety. Instead, they should be held in contempt for failing to quell the deadliest epidemic of urban terrorism the city has ever faced.
In just the last couple of weeks there was:
– A shooting at the Detroit Mackenzie High School summer picnic
– A self-inflicted wound by a 14 year old who took a gun to the downtown fireworks — an innocent girl the victim of the ricocheting bullet
– A retired cop wounded during a carjacking
– A suspected car thief lay dead in another
– A shooting at the Greyhound bus station that left one man dead and another hospitalized
– Two dead bodies found in a house set ablaze
– A vigilante who shot an alleged thief who foolishly returned to the crime scene
– An elderly woman severely beaten after giving a predator access to her apartment building
– A Good Samaritan struck down attempting to stop a robbery in America’s murder capital
It is not my intent to concoct excuses for the grim statistics, but they reflect a persistent class of poor single mothers and wayward men who may never go to bed in a house where their children also sleep. Together they unwittingly breed cold-blooded terrorists, vulnerable and tormented young men who exhibit aggression from growing up without a father. They seethe in rage and act out about being trapped in risky situations and undesirable lifestyles that sap any enthusiasm for playing by the rules.
Nothing is more gut wrenching than graphic depictions of children growing up in households that do not value education. Many offenders are not just unemployed; they are unemployable, lacking high school diplomas and the social skills needed to hold down a minimum wage job. Those that do not overcome tremendous odds or rise above their condition are included in the 106 people through age 24 who met a violent death in 2010, according to published reports.
The carnage that unfolds every night on television news programs provides both a reflection of today and a window on tomorrow.
The social and economic cost — including direct losses, pain and suffering, and risk of death – runs in the millions. And this does not include larger costs of crime like lost sales, because people are afraid to go out shopping; lost jobs, when people and businesses abandon crime-ridden neighborhoods; and lost tax revenues, when sales, businesses, and jobs no longer exist.
I fully understand that it is beyond the reach and ability of government to re-establish a new community code that embraces the values of honesty, truth and respect for life.
Trying to modify the behavior of an outlaw element that that sucks life from the city requires the expertise of principled city leaders who are committed both by priority and policy to find the money to put enough cops on the streets. Detroit politicians are best at deploying empty symbols of rhetorical shrewdness – and nothing more.
The council claimed the public safety cuts it originally proposed were intended to ward off the imposition of an emergency financial manager. However, based on the violent crime culture that exists in the city, an EFM should be the second state option. First declare martial law and send in the Michigan National Guard.