DETROIT (FOX 2) – Detroit police have held a town hall with cops, clergy, activists and, most importantly, everyday residents of the Detroit Edison Academy to discuss solutions to the crime that so many know all too well.
“I observed two young men with Uzis, one killed the other,” said resident Glenda McGadney. “And that was two Sundays ago. It’s a reality that I thought I would never see in my entire life. I’m traumatized.”
There have been 221 homicides so far this year – and although that’s less than the same point last year, more children have been killed in 2022 than the year before.
“The problem is, I can’t interfere when two men have legitimate beef,” Ceasefire Outreach’s Phil Sample said. “But when babies get shot, when old elderly women sitting at a table having lunch get shot, that’s a problem.”
Panelists, including Chief James White, agreed that the way forward is holistic and includes addressing mental health issues and poverty.
“I had to hire locally tonight,” White said. “We have radiation fairs going on, we have education opportunities, we have a truck driving school.”
The plan also involves expanding technology like ShotSpotter — hardware that detects and identifies the sound of gunfire — giving cops the ability to better respond to it.
“It’s the most race-neutral piece of gear we have,” White said. “It doesn’t spot black shots, it doesn’t spot Hispanic shots, it doesn’t spot white shots, it spots shots. And using it responsibly will save lives.”
Detroit police say crime is down in areas where ShotSpotter is operational.
“I’m leaning towards supporting ShotSpotter,” said Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield. “I understand this is a tool that the police department can use.”
Cornelius Webb of Detroit Friends and Family says he plans to share what he heard tonight on the street in his community.
“Because of us, we came here, we heard a voice, and we’re going to bring that voice back to our neighborhood,” he said.
And as the message spreads, some Detroit residents say the city can only move forward when the murders remain unsolved and families, like Robin Newton’s, live without closure. His son Demarr Newtown was murdered.
“It’s been two years now, it’s been three years,” she said. “I know it’s difficult, the police have a lot to do, I understand that role. But don’t let us hang around.”
Chief White said Thursday’s turnout showed residents haven’t thrown in the towel when it comes to crime in the city.