Detroit has always been a “bootstraps” town, and despite some tough times in recent years the city is prepared to move forward with success.
On Jan. 4, 2013, Andrew Mach, a staff writer for NBC News, reported that the homicide rate in the city of Detroit continued a grim upward trend in 2012, hitting its highest peak in nearly two decades, according to city officials.
A dwindling population — 706,585 people in 2011, according to the U.S. Census estimate — and the rise in homicides combined to make Detroit’s murder rate among the highest in the nation, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Police Chief Chester Logan announced at a press conference.
“We’ve just lost respect for each other; we’ve lost respect for life,” Mayor Bing said Jan. 3. “I don’t want to say that you can forget about this generation or the generation before us, but if we’re going to solve the problem, we’ve got to get into the heads and the minds and the hearts of our young people, and it’s going to take all of us to do that.”
Detroit’s total of 411 homicides in 2012, up from 377 the previous year, includes 386 criminal homicides and 25 “justifiable homicides,” which included three shootings by police, according to numbers released by the city. The number of criminal homicides increased 12 percent from 344 in 2011. The total in 2010 was 308.
At the Jan. 3 conference, Mayor Bing said, “I think the message that we want our citizens to understand is that we need them. We need them to help us. I just don’t believe that our police department should have the total responsibility for safety in the city.”
Mike Badalament, sales associate for Ram Produce Distributors LLC, located on the Detroit Terminal Market, told The Produce News that the sluggish Detroit economy, the challenges that the automobile industry faces and the high crime rate simply make Detroit an easy target.
“Detroit is certainly not the city it used to be,” Mr. Badalament said. “Mayor Bing inherited a lot of problems when he was sworn in as mayor in May 2009. He is a successful businessman and a retired Hall of Fame basketball player. When he was elected mayor, the aftermath of the Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick scandal was still rocking the city.”
Former Mayor Kilpatrick resigned office in 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of felony obstruction of justice.
Notably, Mayor Bing played 12 seasons in the National Basketball Association as a combo guard for the Detroit Pistons, the Washington Bullets and the Boston Celtics.
Mr. Badalament said that Mayor Bing is working hard to help Detroit move forward with renewed success.
“When you separate the city of Detroit from the rest of Michigan, you’re not talking about a large population,” he said. “Many people have left the city. There is discussion about the state of Michigan taking over the city, and if that happens they will hire a city manager. But that would mean that the city will lack the democracy that it should have.
“Just like the famous athletes who are Detroit natives, we like to punch in and punch out,” he said. “Everyone is feeling economic pressures today, but people love this city and they always return to it. I think we’ll have a great rebound under the right political leadership. We’re used to rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work. Everyone else might be talking down about Detroit, but we are always talking it up.”
Detroit, he noted, can’t go anywhere but up from the depression it has and continues to experience.
“We are seeing younger people moving back into Detroit because of the availability and low prices of housing,” he said. “We need better schooling and lower housing taxes, and under the right leadership we feel these things can be accomplished.
“Many of my friends have kids who are in college or working in other major cities in the country,” he continued. “When a Detroit sports team plays in Los Angeles or in Chicago, it is amazing how many people show up at the games wearing a Detroit ball cap.