Detroit — Federal and local law enforcement officials Monday announced they are targeting Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods for a summer crackdown on gun crimes in the latest attempt to stem violence in one of the nation’s most dangerous big cities.
The initiative will focus on high crime areas in the east and northwest sides of Detroit that have led to the highest numbers of fatal and non-fatal shootings, robberies, and aggravated assaults with a gun this year.
During the summer crackdown lasting through Labor Day, felons arrested and charged with gun crimes in one of those areas will be prosecuted in federal court and federal prosecutors will consider filing charges against people accused of using a firearm to commit a violent or drug crime in those areas. Felons convicted of illegally possessing firearms face stiffer penalties — up to 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 fines — than if they were tried in state court.
“We’ve already got officers that are in position looking for violent offenders,” Detroit Police Chief James White said. “Now we’ve got this support … we’ve already got prosecutors literally sitting at the table with our teams right now, today, looking at cases that are happening in our community.”
U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison announced the law enforcement effort Monday afternoon with Mayor Mike Duggan, officials with Detroit police and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, and leaders of federal agencies, including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“This strategy is designed to significantly reduce violence by narrowly focusing on those who are committing it and to give these neighborhoods back to the majority of the residents who want to live in peace,” Ison said in a statement.
Ison said they have used violent crime data to identify the most violent areas in Detroit, which include sections in the 8th and the 9th Precincts. The 9th Precinct has experienced 708 violent incidents in 2022 alone, which is down from 917 at this time last year; the 8th Precinct has had 678 violent incidents to date, compared to 756 last year, Ison said.
“Although these hot spots have seen some reductions in 2021 … it is not enough,” Ison said. “We are going for the most violent people, the most violent groups and the most violent places.”
The 9th Precinct includes the 48205 ZIP code between Seven Mile and Eight Mile roads, east of Gratiot and west of Kelly.
The ZIP code was one of the deadliest parts of Detroit during the most recent federal crackdown in 2018. The area in the city’s northeast corner was so dangerous some locals called it the 4820-Die, and it is home to the Seven Mile Bloods street gang.
The Detroit News focused on the federal prosecution of gang members in the narrative series “Death by Instagram.”
The series coincided with trials of Seven Mile Bloods members blamed for terrorizing neighbors, fueling the opioid epidemic and assassinating rivals targeted on Instagram hit lists.
Most recently an 11-year-old girl was shot and killed Saturday night while having a sleepover at her grandmother’s home. Sandra Turner-Handy, 64, president of the community relations council in the 9th Precinct, emphasized the need for intervention in her neighborhood.
“I live in the most violent zip code in the city,” Turner-Handy said. “We want a higher quality of life where we feel safe, where we’re not worried about our kids being shot unnecessarily because of recklessness.
“Nobody’s coming from across 8 Mile with a gun to shoot somebody in Detroit right now. That is not what’s happening. It is happening in our communities. We have to take responsibility.”
Ison targeted violent crime and illegal gun possession as priorities after taking leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit late last year.
Last fall, FBI crime statistics showed Detroit is still among the most violent big cities in America amid a nationwide rise in assaults, shootings and homicides.
Two years ago, Detroit had a rate of 2,248.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, behind only Memphis, Tennessee, as the highest rate in the country among cities with more than 100,000 residents. St. Louis, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas, and South Bend, Indiana rounded out the top five. Lansing, Michigan was ranked No. 9.
Alabama, Maryland and Pennsylvania reported limited data to the FBI in 2020, so cities with more than 100,000 residents that often appear high in crime rankings, such as Birmingham, Baltimore and Philadelphia, are not included in this year’s data.
The FBI provides population estimates for cities, but The News analysis is based on 2020 census data.
In 2020, 14,370 violent crimes — which include assault, robbery, rape and criminal homicide — were reported by Detroit police, according to FBI data. That’s a 10.25% increase from 2019 when 13,034 violent crimes were reported.
Homicides nationally jumped 29.4% from 2019 to 2020, the FBI data showed. Violent crimes also were up 5.6% in 2020 over the previous year across the country.
In Detroit, murders rose 19.3% and aggravated assaults increased 21.7%, leading to the city’s big jump in overall violent crime rate even though the number of reported rapes fell by 29% and robberies fell by 21.2%. The city reported 328 murders, including non-negligent manslaughter, 676 rapes, 1,848 robberies and 11,518 aggravated assaults, according to FBI data.
Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed.
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