Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown talks about Police Chief Warren Evans, the Kwame Kilpatrick era, and neighborhood crime.
Motown, in recent years, hasn't been on the map due to its celebrated music history. Rather, by the level of crime, even within the city's government. But, Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, who's also a former Detroit police officer, has something to say about it.
Current Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, who was formerly the Wayne County Sheriff, is trying to reduce crime dramatically in the city. One of his goals for the Detroit Police Department (DPD) is to improve the response times to citizen calls for assistance, a subject which has been an issue in Detroit for many years.
When I asked Brown what he thought of the job Chief Evans was doing, he said:
"Considering the limited resources Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans has at his disposal, including a patrol force that should have at least 500 more officers, he is doing an admirable job."
Brown goes on to say that Evans has been innovative in his approach on combating crime. Brown applauds the new police chief for instituting an anonymous texting tip line, creating task forces to capture drug dealers, rather than simply focusing on users, and offering fugitives incentives for turning themselves in at local churches.
Improving public safety is a commitment Brown, who is also the chair of the Public Health and Safety Standing Committee, is determined to succeed in. His goal is to work with his council colleagues to provide the resources that the DPD needs, despite having a shrinking budget to work with.
An initiative the Council President Pro Tem has been working on, the DPD Secondary Employment program, allows off-duty patrol officers to be employed by security firms, neighborhood associations, and businesses using their squad cars and assigned equipment. This increases the number of officers in Detroit's neighborhoods, without any added costs.
Brown says, "The program will allow Chief Evans to adjust on-duty patrols and move officers to neighborhoods that do not have private security. Currently, this program is being discussed in committee before it goes before the full council and a public hearing."
As any concerned Detroiter would ask, I asked Councilman Brown how the city is moving forward since the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption. He began by saying, "As Detroit leadership we have moved beyond that era. There is a new mayor and five of the nine members on City Council are new. Together we are focused on addressing the challenges facing our city."
He and his council colleagues are serving in the best interest of Detroiters, balancing the budget and strengthening the city, obviously weakened due to the past administration.
Brown says council is "making the tough decisions that will help improve our current situation and makes steps for a brighter future."
The council table has "restored order and unity," something unanimously missing from the previous council.
"We have addressed many challenges facing the city that had been sitting before council for months prior to our election. When we do the right things, the notion of a former corrupt mayor will move farther and farther away from memory. We don’t have time to focus on anything other than addressing the real challenges facing our city, and I do believe the citizens want to move forward as well."
Finally, Brown was asked what would he say to someone who is considering moving to the city, but is worried about crime.
Firstly, he made it very clear to me, saying, "We are doing everything possible to address crime."
If any of you is considering the move to Detroit, you may want to read what Brown had to say:
"Citizens are getting organized in neighborhoods through associations and block clubs to collaborate with the police department to address crime in their neighborhoods by being the eyes and ears. These groups are cleaning up their blocks, boarding up vacant houses, and performing their own patrols so that their neighborhoods don’t attract crime.
Unfortunately when you have the highest unemployment in Michigan, it increases the likelihood of crime. This is why initiatives such as non-profits working with the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools and universities to provide additional training to citizens and connect them with employers is so very important and an ongoing effort that I support.
The statistics do not point to the problems that are being addressed now and are not often reported. These include the efforts of Police Chief Evans and DPD officers to tackle crime at its very core; cooperation with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police to work cohesively to prevent crime; and many public-private partnerships that provide job training and other education so citizens feel more empowered to get work and can provide for their families.
Detroit’s rich culture, music, entertainment, sporting events and the engineering talent here is second to none. There are residents and businesses moving into Detroit. After General Motors was re-organized, it committed to maintain its headquarters in downtown Detroit and is bringing additional staff to the Renaissance Center. The City’s technology and health care industry is growing significantly. Compuware’s headquarters is based downtown and they continue to lead specific technology fields. The nation’s leading online mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, is moving 1,700 staff to downtown Detroit this spring. Nashville-based Vanguard Health Systems is investing $1.5 Billion in the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Health System is making an investment in its facilities and surrounding neighborhood with a planned $500 Million for its main hospital campus and $500 Million for the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, the Detroit Public Schools are collaborating with the philanthropic community and universities to greatly improve its academics. I believe all this and more not mentioned here is reason for families and businesses to consider Detroit."
In regards to the neighborhood cleanup initiative, Brown expresses a great yearning for revamping the city and giving it a good name.
Brown sure does give a lot of examples of why families and businesses really should consider Detroit.
As the old Motown song goes, "Can't forget the Motor City!"