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City, County, State Gun Violence Reduction Partnership Has Detroit on Path to Fewest Homicides in 57 Years

2023
  • Through November 30, Detroit has seen a dramatic drop in 2023 homicides, putting Detroit on track to finish the year with the fewest homicides since 1966
  • Unprecedented City, County, and State partnership dramatically reduced the massive Covid-era backlog of felony gun cases, reporting a functional Wayne County criminal justice system. 
  • The results as of November 30, 2023, compared to last year, show unprecedented one-year reductions:
    • Homicides down 18%
    • Non-fatal shootings down 13%
    • Carjackings down 36%

 

 

Cities across America have seen a rise in violent crime since COVID-19, part of which has been caused by the pandemic’s complete disruption of the criminal justice system. Court criminal dockets backed up, jails were forced to release prisoners for lack of space, and police departments and prosecutors had great difficulty filling vacant positions.

In late 2021, County Executive Warren Evans and Mayor Mike Duggan pulled together a coalition to restore the criminal justice system to pre-COVID-19 operations. The coalition included:

  • Prosecutor Kym Worthy
  • Chief James White
  • Sheriff Raphael Washington
  • Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Patricia Fresard
  • 36th District Court Chief Judge William McConico
  • Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington

The result has been so successful that the City of Detroit has seen huge reductions in violent crime through November 30th 2023 compared to the first 11 months of 2022. Reduction through November:

  • Homicides down 18%
  • Non-fatal shootings down 13%
  • Carjackings down 36%

In 2018, Detroit had 261 homicides, the fewest number since 1966. Through November 30, 2023 Detroit has experienced only 228 homicides, putting the city on track to finish well below the 2018 record low.

County Executive Warren Evans took the lead in coordinating efforts among the county agencies and the courts. “Leadership, teamwork, and a commitment to the community were key components of this initiative,” Evans said. “Our data shows that 50 fewer Detroiters will lose their lives to gun violence in 2023 and 100 fewer will suffer gunshot injuries,” he stated. “This success resulted from every single agency working together and working hard."

Mayor Duggan praised the efforts of the entire group. “We are seeing record drops in gun violence in Detroit because every single part of the criminal justice system is getting past Covid obstacles and is now working again,” Duggan said. “I have never seen such a high level of cooperation.”

The criminal justice coalition targeted 7 problem areas caused by COVID-19 and developed successful strategies for each:

 Successes

1) Reduction of felony gun case backlog in Wayne County Circuit Court.

  • There were more than 4,000 felony gun cases pending trial in Wayne County Circuit Court in January 2022. That number has been cut 67% to 1,330 in November 2023. That means Wayne County has 3,000 fewer people charged with gun felonies whose cases have not been adjudicated. (See Attached Chart)

 

Gun Violence Reduction graphic1

 

“Our Court Team and Judges have demonstrated their commitment to the community through a restructuring plan and full-force effort to return to being on-site following the COVID shutdown, conducting trials every day, directly resulting in a safer community, and positively impacting hundreds of families seeking justice.  The Court has joined forces with the coalition to collaborate and seek solutions together, for the benefit of our community.  The Court is grateful for its hard-working judges and community members willing to serve as jurors to render fair verdicts in a huge number of trials this year,” said Chief Judge Patricia Perez Fresard.

 

2) Reduction of felony gun case backlog in 36th District Court.

  • There were more than 2,000 pre-trial felony gun cases pending trial in 36th District Court in January 2022. That number has been cut 80% to 415 in November 2023. That allows the criminal cases to proceed seamlessly to adjudication at Wayne County Circuit Court. (See Attached Chart)

 

"The commitment and dedication of all of the stakeholders involved in these efforts have resulted in positive and significant progress. Our community has and will continue to benefit by the work that has been done, and I am eager to see how we build upon these impressive outcomes. The 36th District Court remains committed to this and any endeavor that aims to increase access to justice for those we serve,” said Chief Judge William C. McConico.

Gun Violence Reduction graphic2

 

 

3) Increased staffing for Wayne County Prosecutor, Sheriff, and DPD.

  • The Detroit Police contract in November 2022 gave officers a $10,000 raise and has resulted in 200 additional officers on the street in 2023.
  • The new Wayne County Prosecutors contract provided a 15% increase, making Wayne County competitive with the surrounding counties.
  • The new Wayne County Sheriff’s contract gave starting deputies a 24% increase, allowing Sheriff Washington to begin filling 200 vacancies.

“The dedicated men and women of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office are committed to excellence, and I am happy to have implemented important initiatives that both reduced crime and increased accountability for those in our care,” said Sheriff Raphael Washington. 

“This collaboration is unique in that issues are identified, solutions discussed, and these solutions are implemented. It is not just talk, talk, talk. The people at the table are the decision makers and significant work is done at each meeting. “We have and continue to tackle serious issues - gun violence, lack of resources, backlogs, training, recruitment and retention, police officer no shows, and other system failures that needed fixing. Many of these are long standing problems that we have been successfully tackling in a very meaningful way,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

Gun Violence Reduction graphic3

 

 

4) Increased coordination between Wayne County Prosecutor and DPD on shooting and homicide cases.

  • With the launch of the Violent Crime Reduction Initiative, Wayne County Prosecutors were co-located at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters to create a seamless line of communication between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Detroit Police Department Homicide Unit, resulting in pending homicide warrants being reduced 25%.
  • In 2024, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is working to place community prosecutors in 3 precincts to extend the progress, with the hope of additional precincts in the future.
  • In 2023, the Detroit Police Department instituted a 12-Point Plan that included increased staffing, technology resources, and data-driven deployment strategies to address an uptick in early 2023. Following the implementation of the strategy, crime dropped significantly in the City.
  • The Detroit Police Department also instituted crowd control strategy to help keep high-volume areas of the city orderly so that residents and visitors could enjoy what the city of Detroit has to offer.

“We thank Prosecutor Worthy for her commitment to staff additional attorneys to work within DPD’s homicide section,” said Chief James E. White. “Working in conjunction with the hardworking men and women of DPD, these prosecuting attorneys, solely dedicated to building cases against this city’s most violent offenders, have proven to be invaluable for the department and victims’ families. We look forward to expanding our partnership with the Prosecutor’s Office through the implementation of community prosecutors inside of select precincts, with additional precincts in the future.”

Gun Violence Reduction graphic4

 

5) Increased accountability for defendants released on tether to the Wayne County Sherif 

  • Tether release was originally designed to offer defendants the option of detention in their own homes instead of in the Wayne County jail. Tether orders traditionally allowed defendants to leave their homes for work, education, or medical needs.
  • In 2022, of 1400 defendants released on tether, only approximately 15% or 200 had any type of restriction, leading to a number of cases where defendants were committing crimes on tether.
  • Through the efforts of Sheriff Washington and Prosecutor Worthy, today approximately 85% of tethered defendants have movement restrictions in their release orders. Tether release has returned to its original purpose of providing home detention instead of jail detention.
Gun Violence Reduction graphic5

 

6) Increased accountability from Michigan Department of Corrections for those on Probation and Parole.

  • The MDOC identified individuals who were most likely to illegally possess firearms while on probation and worked with the courts to secure updated probation orders that allowed for additional searches and compliance checks to be carried out by the MDOC and law enforcement partners. The resulting arrests helped take guns off the street, making our communities safer.

“The results of this effort are clear. When we work together in a proactive fashion at the local, county, and state levels, we can reduce violent crime. I’m proud of the role that the Michigan Department of Corrections’ staff has played in this work, and the support that the administration of Governor Whitmer has provided for this effort,” said Heidi Washington, MDOC Director.

 

7) FAST

  • The FAST unit is a joint fugitive apprehension unit of DPD and the Wayne County Sheriff. In 2023, FAST has apprehended nearly 1,000 individuals with outstanding felony warrants, prioritizing those wanted for gun crime.

State Funding Critical in Eliminating the Backlog

With the help of Speaker Joe Tate, Representative Tyrone Carter, the Michigan Legislature and Governor Whitmer, the group received $2.5 million in 2021 and $12.5 million in 2023.  “That supplemental funding was critical to our success,” County Executive Evans said.

The additional appropriation allowed strategies like virtual dockets and visiting judges to handle more cases and is now being used for additional prosecutors and court personnel.

Support Staff Lauded

County Executive Evans and Mayor Duggan would like to thank the hardworking staff of the organizations who made the success possible, including Rob Shinske, Hassan Beydoun, Lawrence Meyer and Christina Matti from the Mayor’s Office, Detroit Police Department Assistant Chief Charles Fitzgerald and Deputy Chief Kari Sloan, Director Fatima Elzein Detroit Police Department, Deputy County Executive Assad Turfe and Wayne County Executive’s Office Chief of Staff Brian Rinehart, 3rd Circuit Court Frank Hardester and Margaret Flanagan, 36th District Court Lawanda Crosby, Michigan Department of Corrections Assistant Deputy Director Beverly Smith, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Mike Jaafar and Chief Robert Dunlap, and City of Detroit Law Department Conrad Mallet and Doug Baker, and from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Chief of Staff Daryl Carson, Chief of District Courts and Warrants Gary Bresnehan, Chief of Special Operations Joe Jansen, Chief of IT Mark Hindelang and Administration Director Gehan Essak.

Gun Violence Reduction Partnership 5-graphics.pdf