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Noah Arabbo, Catherine Butler, Aaron Espere, Cameron Shadaia, Veronica Tchernychouk

Dr. Andrew Cavin

PS 1010, Section 525

26 April 2017

Multi-Sphere Involvement to Decrease Crime in Detroit

The future appears bright for the city of Detroit, as its crime rates are continuously

decreasing. According to the United States Attorneys Office, Detroit is close to having the

lowest homicide rate in the city since 1967 (McQuade 1). In recent years, there has been up to a

28 percent decrease in the homicide rate, while other crimes have also gone down significantly:

carjacking [has decreased] by 30 percent, robbery by 25 percent, and non-fatal shootings by 13

percent (McQuade 3). With current Mayor Mike Duggan being known as a problem-solver and

dealing with the public safety operations of Detroit, the future seems positive for the city.

However, while these statistics are very important and encouraging to the future of Detroit, the

city still has a long way to go. When looking at Detroits crime rates in comparison to other

places in the United States, they are higher than average. In 2016 alone, there have been 302

homicides in Detroit: one of the highest murder rates in the country (Williams and Dickson,

par. 5). The violent crime rates and motor vehicle theft rates for Detroit are some of the highest

in the nation (Neighborhoodscout). Violent crimes can include armed robberies, aggravated

assaults, rapes, murders, and manslaughters. A lot of the crimes committed in Detroit consist of

property crimes, such as burglary, larceny, arson, and motor vehicle theft (Neighborhoodscout).

The danger of Detroit keeps a lot of people away, including new businesses. As stated by Kym

Worthy, You can have all the urban development you want and attract all the business people

you want, but if the citys not safe, they arent going to come [] and if they come, they arent

going to stay (Newcombe). Detroits reputation of being one of the most dangerous cities in the

United States dissuades people and businesses from relocating into the city. With the lack of

people coming to Detroit, the economy cannot be fueled on their transactions and consumption.

As found by a Harvard researcher, violent crime and criminal presence reduces economic

diversification, limiting the number of sectors that operate in a territory, favoring concentration,

and inhibiting the development of complex industries (Rios 4). Thus, in decreasing the crime

rates in Detroit, the economy and businesses will benefit. Finding solutions to the crime in

Detroit is important because not only do people want to feel safe in their own city, but people

also will no longer be deterred from visiting or moving into Detroit.

The crime in Detroit is only an issue for those living in Detroit. When the auto-industry

and the stock market crashed, many people who could afford to fled from the city. This white

flight caused many of the houses in Detroit to become abandoned and taken over by blight. With

most the wealthy population gone, the city lost its economic stability, resulting in many

opportunities for crime to take over (Boyle 110-11). Due to the auto-industry being centered in

Detroit, the after-effects were mainly in the city. According to the FBIs Crime Reporting

System, the violent crime rates in just Detroit for the past two decades are four times the rates of

the entire state of Michigan. From that statistic, it is evident that crime is strictly a local problem

to Detroit.

On a large scale, crime affects Detroits economy, as previously mentioned. Because of

the crime and poverty, Detroit is a less than desirable place to start a business. On a smaller,

individual level, heavy crime in an area can create the fear of crime. Today, the fear of crime is a

major social problem (Alper and Chappell 1). According to Mariel Alper and Allison Chappell,

[Having a fear of crime] undermines the quality of life, increases divisions between the rich and

the poor, transforms public places into places to avoid, leads to increased punitiveness, and can

increase crime (1). The fear of crime ruins the sense of community in an area. Wealthy people

may be able to protect themselves by moving from the area, but that only displaces crime onto

people already suffering. People living in areas heavy with crime feel helpless and will change

their daily habits. They will avoid leaving their homes, and when they do go out, they will avoid

certain dangerous activities, such as public transport, walking down certain roads, and being near

certain types of people (Mapping the Fear of Crime 13).

Many things can influence criminal activity, but there are no concrete causes of crime.

Detroits homicide rates and poverty levels have been studied to try and discover a correlation

between the two. It has been found that homicides, along with other acts of crime, are heavily

influenced by poverty, age, and the racial composition of a population, and as poverty increases

in an area, so do the amount of homicides (McDowall 27-30). Researchers find that most

homicide offenders and victims are young and non-white (McDowall 28). In the past three

decades, 54.7 percent of homicide offenders were non-white, and blacks were

disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims (Worrall, par. 11). Despite

race and age, background and situational factors can influence criminal activity. Background

factors can include: one having a low self-control, lack of parental or guardian supervision, or

association with delinquent peers (Agnew 1). Situational factors are circumstances in which

there could be a lack of supervision, the presence of attractive targets, or provocations by others

that could create the convenient opportunity to commit a crime (Agnew 1).

In the service learning aspect of the project, our group decided to tackle crime rates by

targeting blight. Blight can be described as the neglect of an urban area, and it can eventually

lead to other problems such as abandonment and deterioration. Blight is a very large problem in

Detroit: since 2005, [] 139,699 of 384,672 [of Detroit properties] have been foreclosed and

many of the foreclosed properties in Detroit are not maintained afterwards, thus, suffering from

blight (Kurth and MacDonald, par 2). These create environments that are promoters of crime.

Areas suffering from blight are usually not well maintained or visually appealing. They are areas

that emanate danger, and because of this, people tend to stay away from blight afflicted areas.

These factors can snowball into serious crime, as even minor public incivilities as drinking in

the street, spray-painting graffiti, and breaking windows can escalate into predatory crime

because prospective offenders assume from these manifestations of disorder that area residents

are indifferent to what happens in their neighborhoods (Sampson 1). Crime offenders assume

they are less likely to get caught committing crimes in blight afflicted neighborhoods due to the

condition, making it seem like people do not care about the area. This has led to frequent break-

ins, vandalism, and robberies in blight afflicted areas.

To combat this blight, our group worked with the community in various cleanups in

different neighborhoods. We first volunteered at the Community of Scholars (CoS) Park Clean-

up with Wolverine Human Services, a group that aims to make safe environments for children to

be raised in. We helped a Wolverine Human Services community center and the surrounding

neighborhood by picking up trash. The second organization we volunteered with was the Urban

Development Program, which aims to help bring people back to Detroit through the

beautification of Detroit neighborhoods. With them, we helped clean neighborhoods by picking

up trash, removing vegetation, and cleaning driveways.

Helping assist in combating blight through volunteering really helped us realize how

much of a contributing factor blight is to crime. During the CoS park clean up, someone found a

gun while cleaning. We did not know if it was functioning or loaded, but to think it was right on

the ground, for anyone to find and potentially use it is no wonder blight afflicted areas suffer

from high rates of crime. Cleaning up blight should be the next step to reducing crime rates, and

all spheres can get involved. For example, the government sphere has enacted policies to combat

blight, like the Detroit Blight Force, and the market sphere can use their assets to help pay for

people to help clean up communities. The civic and private spheres can also organize cleanups

for their personal communities. Blight is a problem that does not have to be worked on on a large

scale: communities can help solve crime through volunteering. We can promote community

involvement for reducing crime by promoting fixing issues like blight.

A program that has been successful in helping reduce crime rates in Detroit is the

AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program (ACUSP, par 2). Originating from a non-profit organization

located on Wayne States campus, ACUSP is a program that aimed to reduce crime rates in

Midtown of Detroit by promoting safety and community throughout the city. ACUSP has closely

integrated their efforts with local communities in order to motivate them to start crime-fighting

initiatives on their own. For example, they have contributed many different efforts, including

creating block clubs and conducting neighborhood cleanups to get the community involved in

helping reduce crime, working with Detroit Police officers to locate areas where crime is

frequent, and tracking frequent offenders, helping to directly reduce crime.

ACUSP is able to expand their reach on reducing crime by involving many different

spheres. The government sphere has been involved with ACUSP through its connections with

several government officials. Governor Rick Snyder has also heavily assisted ACUSP through

his announcement of an initiative to give ACUSP $1.1 million, with $75,000 going to ACUSPs

crime analysis, $505,200 to a scholarship program, and the remaining amount to pay ACUSP

volunteers $12,000 a year (Burns, par 6-7). ACUSP has been involved with the private sphere

through its close integration with the community. By being involved in block clubs and

neighborhood watches, they are able to motivate the private sphere to stop crime. Although

ACUSP is not closely integrated with the market sphere, being a non-profit organization, it does

help the market sphere by reducing crime in Detroit. By reducing crime in Detroit, it makes the

environment safer for business. This helps bring businesses into Detroit, which helps to stimulate

Detroits economy. AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program is able to expand its reach on reducing

crime by involving many different spheres. This allows the program to be successful because it

acts as the bridge between the police force and the community, allowing them to support each

other in times of need. Due to a lack of new police officers, the Detroit Police Force has been

understaffed in their efforts to fight crime in the area. With ACUSP focusing on actively

engaging members of society, the people now are motivated to fight crime in forms of

neighborhood watches and such, making reducing crime much easier with more agents working

against it.

The media has also played a positive role in helping ACUSP distribute their goals and

intentions to a wider audience. Through mentioning of ACUSP through several news sites such

as Michigan Live, Drawing Detroit, and the Kresge Foundation, ACUSP is able to show its

message to more people, hopefully being able to inspire them to volunteer and help fight against

crime in Detroit.

Although ACUSP has made great strides in helping reduce crime in Detroit, it has not

fully ameliorated the problem of crime due to some inherent weaknesses. After seeing some

success in reducing crime in Midtown, ACUSP has been looking to increase their radius of

influence into other areas of Detroit. However, since it is volunteer and community based, there

are some structures in place that make it difficult to do so. First, ACUSP would have to generate

a sufficient number of volunteers in different areas in Detroit, and they will have to work around

peoples inability to make long-term commitments due to busy schedules or lack of interest.

Additionally, since ACUSPs efforts are more long-term, crime will continue to exist no matter

what is done to help improve Detroit. Crime is a social structure caused by economic structures

such as poverty, and it will continue to plague Detroit as long as Detroit is in a substantial

amount of debt. Detroit would have to solve its debt problems before it can see any real

reductions in crime. Still, it does not detract from the fact that ACUSP has been successful in

reducing crime rates and has potential to be successful in areas other than just Midtown.

Another effort that has been successful in reducing crime rates in Detroit is MindUP: a

classroom-based intervention geared toward the development of socialemotional competence

among youth using mindful attention training which refers to bringing ones complete attention

to the present experience" (National Institute of Justice, par 1). MindUP is a program that focuses

on improving behavioral and learning tendencies in students. It offers 15 different lessons that

help improve several skills in students and help them develop a positive mindset. This program is

successful in preventing crime through targeting youth, modifying their mindsets and preventing

them from committing crime in the first place. It targets students at the elementary school age

because, it is during [that] developmental period that childrens personalities, behaviors, and

competencies begin to consolidate into forms that persist into adolescence and adulthood

(Reichl, par 8). By enforcing positivity and awareness through their various educational

programs, MindUP can help shape the youths mindset into one that will be deterred from crime

in the future.

MindUP is able to help combat crime through its involvement with the civic sphere and

the private sphere. By integrating their programs with the students learning, they are involved

heavily in the private sphere. Their program can be taken from schools and also be implemented

into family homes. Due to this, children can really embrace the MindUP curriculum through

constant repetition at school and at home. This repetition makes it more likely for children to

unconsciously integrate the lessons from MindUP into their personal lifestyles, making it more

likely that MindUp will stick with a child as they grow up.

The media has also played a positive role promoting MindUP and its functions. Websites

like People.com, Science News for Students, and the Northwest Indiana Times all explain what

MindUPs program does and how it is beneficial for students. Through mediums such as news

websites, MindUP can broadcast its effects to many different audiences and hopefully expand its

reach into different school programs.

While MindUP has seen results in improving childrens behavioral tendencies, it does fall

short in some aspects in reducing crime in Detroit. First, MindUP faces various economic and

structural barriers that give it difficulties in implementation. MindUP states that its program costs

around $5,000 to $10,000 to implement. Many schools in Detroit are suffering from poverty due

to Detroits substantial amount of debt, and with this, it is hard to integrate a program like

MindUP on top of the already costly curriculum. There can be fundraisers to help schools gain

the money for programs like MindUP, but to a skeptical eye, there is not much reason to raise

money for a program that might not work when it can be used to help improve the school itself.

Finally, MindUP is a long term program. It will take a long time before its effects on reducing

crime will be noticeable because these students have to grow up, and it has to be shown that they

are less likely to commit crimes in the future. It is one thing for a program to make students less

likely to speak out against teacher, and it is another thing for a program to make adults less likely

to commit crime. Despite those problems, MindUP has already seen some results in improving

the behaviors of children, and it is not long before those effects translate into adulthood.

Supporting the idea that multiple-sphere involvement is key to a programs success, the

Wayne State University Police Department (WSUPD) also successfully reduces crime on the

Wayne State campus with the help of the private sphere. The locally-run WSUPD has a heavy

presence throughout the campus of Wayne State University. Their patrol routes go beyond the

campuss borders and into the surrounding neighborhoods. College campuses are a dangerous

place to be in, with their theft and sexual assault rates at a high level. Despite Wayne State being

in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, it is one of the safest college campuses

in Michigan (2017 Safest College Campuses in Michigan). Having a strong police presence

greatly decreases opportunities for crime: The Wayne State Police Department has 60 officers

who patrol the campus and the neighboring Midtown neighborhood, where serious crime has

decreased 52 percent since 2008 (Detroits Wayne State University Listed Among Safest

College Campuses In U.S). The factor that is key to the police departments success is their

push for community involvement from the private sphere. Students, along with the police force,

must constantly be on their guard and aware of their surroundings to avoid any dangerous

situations, so like many college campuses, Wayne State has blue-light emergency telephone

boxes throughout campus. Students are also encouraged to have WSUPDs emergency number

on speed dial on their phones. With students easy access to the police and their quick response

times, Wayne States campus has been made much safer. Individual involvement with the police

department is also encouraged through self-defense classes. Individuals can learn how to feel

more confident in their abilities to defend themselves through men and womens self-defense

courses. The WSUPD has support from the private sphere of life along with the government,

making it a successful department that engages more than one sphere of life.

A member of our group decided to take advantage of what the Wayne State Police

Department had to offer and signed up to take a Basic Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course.

This course was a twelve-hour class, spread throughout four evenings, and it was for women of

all ages. The WSUPD offers other self-defense courses for women, as well as a Resisting

Aggression w/ Defense (RAD) class for men. Two hours of the class consisted of lectures and

presentations about the sad realities of sex crimes, and the next seven hours were self-defense

training sessions based on a variety of common situations and how to avoid becoming a victim.

The last three hours was a simulation where they applied their new skills to an interactive

situation. The combination of these three different sessions resulted in a newfound confidence

and a decrease in fear when walking around downtown among the women who took the course.

This private sphere involvement ultimately made the Wayne State campus feel safer and

decreased the likelihood that they would suffer from a sex-related crime.

Our group believes that we can generate a direct plan of action that combines the

successful efforts of all other solutions. This proposed solution will consist of a grassroots

organization piloted by Wayne State University students. This organization will be formed

through the funding of federal grants, as well as donations by citizens. The objective of this

organization is to work cohesively with local police stations, the Center for Urban Studies, and

community residents. The framework consists of the utilization of resources such as CompStat,

social spheres, and community involvement. The overall outcome of this proposed solution is to

deter crime through the use of the assets listed above.

We believe that in order for this solution to be successful, the organization needs to team

up with other various successful programs. For example, the Detroit Police Department is one of

the most efficient resources we have in reducing crime. According to The City of Detroit, reports

of crime had decreased 6.7% in 2016, carjackings had decreased by 39%, while robberies had

decreased 17.4%. With approximately 1,600 officers in Detroit, the Detroit Police Department is

the powerhouse when it comes to detection and reduction of crime. The proposed organization

will see much greater success when united with the Detroit Police Department.

Another program our organization can greatly be impacted from is the Center for Urban

Studies. This program is piloted by Wayne State University and has worked to reduce urban

challenges since 1967. According to the Center for Urban Studies homepage, "the mission of

Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies is to improve understanding of and provide

innovative responses to urban challenges and opportunities." This program is dedicated to

serving Detroit and the metropolitan area through conducting research, developing policies and

programs, training, and much more. With the knowledge the Center for Urban Studies has

collected over the course of 50 years, the proposed organization will have the opportunity to be

efficient and effective.

The proposed solution needs a specific framework in order to successfully complete the

objective. One of the resources involved in this framework includes the program CompStat.

According to Kathleen Hickey, CompStat is a data-driven police management technique,

developed in New York to reduce and prevent crime (Report: CompStat does reduce crime, par.

2). The article continues to state that programs that resemble CompStat are responsible for a 5 to

15 percent decrease in crime. The program is implemented in more than 10 U.S. cities, including

Detroit. It is efficient in a variety of crime-related situations, such as crime mapping, crime

strategies, and is also a database for crime reports. CompStat has overcome obstacles that other

programs have struggled to conquer. One of these obstacles includes the geographic location.

Many programs suggest that the issue on crime be taken to a national scale, however, CompStat

does a great job of scaling down the issue. This microscopic view on crime allows for a

macroscopic change over time.

Another resource which will be effective in our proposed solution includes the

implementation of social spheres. The proposed solution will include three social spheres: the

civic sphere, the family sphere, and the government sphere. Through the civic sphere, we will

look to operate with community organizations that offer the required manpower to create change.

Through the family sphere, we will involve members of the community who are passionate about

lowering crime rates and are willing to help make a change. Through the government sphere, we

will communicate with local police willing to assist and cooperate with community members.

The incorporation of these three social spheres will the proposed solution be able to reduce


The final resource that our proposed solution will use is the community involvement.

With Detroit as a rising city, there are many residents who are inclined to help the city return to

its thriving era. The primary issue is a lack of opportunities to volunteer around the city. Most

residents will not volunteer because of they do not know or hear about many events that are

offered. With our proposed solution, we will increase the awareness of opportunities around

Detroit, as well as increase the spread of opportunity. Examples of how the community can get

involved range from joining neighborhood watch programs to picking up trash on the street.

Specifically, an improvement in the environment of a community as a direct correlation to the

amount of crime in the area. As our group participated in the cleaning of local environments by

picking up trash, we have realized that through the service learning opportunity presented to us

that criminal behavior can be deterred through a clean community. Detroit's population is

upwards of 688,000, making it the largest city in the midwestern state of Michigan according to

the United States Census Bureau. Creating volunteer opportunities such as a local cleanup can

help Detroit's community become more involved in the city, and an increase in involvement from

local residents can help create a safer environment for the city. With the help of these residents,

the proposed solution can affect a wider area, expanding further than Detroit.

In order for the proposed solution to take place, the overcoming of various structural

obstacles must be done. One of the structural obstacles included is the cost of the creation of this

organization. However, the cost of the organization to be created is very inexpensive. One source

of revenue that can help create this organization is federal funding. There are many programs

that are being funded by the federal government that are not successful. Allowing for the

allocation of the resources from these failed programs toward the more successful programs can

be very useful. Another alternative to combat the cost of the organization is the involvement of

the community. Through donations and fundraisers, we can raise enough money to initiate our

organization. An example of a local fundraiser would be to sell t-shirts that increase awareness of

crime in Detroit.

Another structural obstacle that our proposed solution must overcome is the belief of

citizens that one person cannot make a change. This belief prevents people from helping, as they

will perceive the help as being useless. One way our proposed solution can overcome this

obstacle is by assuring the citizens that their help is very much appreciated. For example,

offering incentives, such as food and other items to working residents will convince them that

their work is meaningful.

The last structural obstacle that will be addressed is the amount of power the creators of

this organization has. Our group has reached the assumption that college students do not have

much authorization in the overall maintenance of crime. However, there are many steps which

can be taken to increase the authority many college students wish to reduce crime. One initiative

college students can take to increase power is communicate with state senators. Communication

with these state senators can influence their ability to distribute power more respectively. This

can lead to an increase in power for college students.

The proposed solution can have the opportunity to become very successful. In order for

this to happen, Wayne State students interested in being a part of this organization have to reach

out and connect with local police stations, the Center for Urban Studies, and community

residents. Once these institutions are integrated into the proposed solution, the implementation of

CompStat, social spheres, and community involvement can be further expressed. Our group

believes that in order to reduce crime, the approach to the problem needs to be simultaneously

versatile and direct. With a solution involving students living in the city, the goal of reducing

crime can come significantly closer to being solved.

When proposing a direct plan of action involving and relying on a group of people as

specific as the students of one university, it is important to acknowledge its possible

shortcomings and propose a subsequent plan of action that is indirect. This means that the

problem of reducing crime rates is looked at from a wider lens. In the grassroots action, the

efforts are focused on small tasks that groups of students could collectively perform that would

hopefully make a difference in the community over time. To make an impact on a larger scale,

our group is proposing a new public policy attempting to alter the way institutions control crime

rates. This policy is aimed at reducing mass incarceration through a series of steps involving

reallocation of national funds, qualification of successful crime-reducing efforts, policy advocacy

in the public, and communication with policymakers.


The continual war on crime in the United States has done little to diminish crimes

happening in the country but instead has caused the number of people behind bars to skyrocket in

just a few decades. Currently, the US incarcerates almost twenty-five percent of the worlds

prisoners while holding only five percent of the worlds population. (BCJ) This means that our

criminal justice system is larger than it has ever been and has to accommodate 2.3 million

imprisoned Americans. This does not mean that more crime has been occurring, it merely shows

that more people are being put behind bars for low-level crimes. In fact, it has been found that

39% of the nationwide prison population can be released with no harm to public safety.

Releasing these people would save $20 billion every year. (Time Magazine). Crime is considered

one of the biggest social problems by most citizens. However, the inflation of incarcerations and

prison sentences has not contributed to the countrys decreasing crime rates. Many prisoners,

notably those 39% who performed non-violent, low-level crimes, would benefit much more from

alternatives such as community service, treatment, or probation. In order for crime to be reduced,

those who leave prison need to be able to adapt back into society in a positive way, in order to

prevent a continuation of the same criminal behavior. Those alternatives to prison are much more

effective to help people with the issues that drive low-level crime, like involvement with drugs

for example.

The public policy our group would like to propose is strongly influenced by a program

written by the Brennan Center for Justice from NYU School of Law. Our goal of reducing crime

rates in Detroit can be achieved by challenging the way our justice system works and working to

make it fair and competent. By working to reduce mass incarceration, the justice system can

better protect our communities and improve public safety. The positive effects of reducing mass

incarceration has already been seen in states such as South Carolina, who reduced its prison

population by 18 percent and saw a 38 percent drop in violent crime. Other states that reduced

unnecessary punishment include California, Texas, and New York, displaying evidence that

states with the largest drops in prison populations also saw the largest reduction of crime.

(Justice Update BCJ)

As the country realizes the adverse effects of mass incarceration, it is necessary to

transform the criminal justice system into one that can effectively fight crime and increase public

safety. This part of the policy relates to criminal justice funding and can be applied at the

national, state, and local levels. Modeling after Brennan Center, we propose that funding focuses

on programs that have been proven to work at reducing crime. To implement this, the funding

would depend partially if not entirely upon the success of the program. The program itself should

have specific goals such as reducing prison sentences, reducing recidivism, reducing number of

incarcerations, and so on. However, the Justice Department has to implement the proposal in

order to make the funding dependent on success. The proposal could be implemented by the

Justice Department - without legislation. This would reflect the indirect approach of Success-

Oriented Funding. (Byrne Report BCJ)


The above chart shows how the JAGs current reports do not incentivize success, but

rather just fuel the problem of mass incarceration by encouraging more arrests. On the right of

the table is the suggested performance measures, ones that would tell a lot more about whether

the funding is being allocated towards efforts that are effectively fighting crime.

Policy advocacy is a part of this plan of action that involves collaboration with existing

organizations and groups in the community. While policymaking is on a broad scale, it can only

be implemented if it is advocated for by the public. It would be beneficial for a partnership to

form between the people most educated about this new policy and the community groups that

have the most hands-on experience with the issue of public safety. This way, the policy can have

more widespread support and this will put pressure on the branches of the criminal justice system

to act accordingly.

The goal of this policy is to cause an institutional change over time. A need for change is

evident based on the research showing that our current criminal justice system is flawed and

incarcerates too many people. This public policy would best address this issue because it outlines

exactly how the change needs to happen. While the conditions are flexible and open to

adjustments as societal standards and life spheres change, the policy will always be aimed at

reducing crime rates in cities. It will work tirelessly towards this goal while preserving the

integrity of human life and a persons ability to reestablish themselves in society.

Although crime in Detroit is a broad issue that includes many structural barriers, our

group ultimately decided on two potential solutions that are feasible and effective in deterring

crime. The main structural barriers that hinder the progress towards stopping crime in the city

include the normalization of crime amongst residents, the lack of necessary funding to lower

crime rates, the understaffing of Detroit Police officers, to name only a few. As a result, these

structural barriers have enabled the cycle of crime to continue to spread, and in turn, crime rates

are remarkably high. Per data released from The Federal Bureau of Investigation and distributed

through Wayne States Drawing Detroit WordPress in 2015, Detroit had the highest number of

manslaughter cases at a rate of 4.4 per 10,000 residents, as compared to the next highest

manslaughter rate in southeastern Michigan of .7 per 10,000 residents in Port Huron. Crime in

Detroit has negatively impacted the city altogether. Businesses are unable to thrive under the

economic conditions resulting from high crime rates, and in turn, the citys economy is affected

as well. The remarkably high crime rates have caused Detroit residents to feel uncomfortable in

their own homes, and even more uncomfortable to perform normal daily tasks. In evaluating this

issue, our group decided that to effectively lower crime rates, we must include several spheres of

action in our proposal. After researching many different attempts to lower crime rates, our group

found a common theme in the frameworks of policies that were most effective.

In studying these many policies, our group narrowed down our proposals to two

solutions: (1) a grassroots action and (2) an institutional policy change. The grassroots solution

entails starting a nonprofit organization with the goal of lowering crime rates in Detroit. Much

like the mission of The Center for Urban Studies, our organization would reach out to Detroit

residents and police departments to cohesively fight against crime. Our organizations primary

function would be to bridge the communication barrier between residents and police officers

through social connection events that would not only bring the different sides together but would

help in recruiting the necessary man-power to institute change.

Our second institutional policy change proposal to lower crime rates would be through

reducing the amount of mass incarceration on a national scale. Theoretically, by reducing the

number of criminals in society, the government would be successful in lowering crime rates;

however, through research, we realized that this strategy proved to be counterproductive. Rather

than being more cost effective, statistics show that under the current criminal justice system,

mass incarceration is extremely costly, wherein the costs outweigh the benefits. By reallocating

the amount of funding from mass incarceration toward more creative and inclusive strategies to

fight crime, the government will be more efficient in lowering crime rates. Our group could work

to integrate this policy change by lobbying policymakers and working with other government

officials interested in changing current strategies for dealing with public safety in large cities.

After assessing the necessary inputs for both solutions, our group unanimously decided

that the grassroots proposal provides a more feasible option than the policy change proposal

approach. The events that our non-profit organization would host would be inexpensive;

therefore, a tremendous amount of federal funding and fundraising would not be necessary.

Events that we would host would include building block clubs, neighborhood watches for homes

and bikes, creating safe routes to schools, boarding up vacant buildings, conducting cleanup

events and securing homes, and providing safety tips such as VIN etching. These events would

not incur a lot of expenses because our participants will be volunteers, and more specifically,

Detroit residents who are passionate and invested in lowering crime rates surrounding their


Alternatively, the policy advocacy approach would be less feasible because of several

barriers our group would face. Being college students, it would be extremely difficult to

coordinate our busy schedules with those of state legislators. Additionally, because our group

consists of college level freshman, we would have a difficult time establishing credibility.

Unfortunately, we would face a tremendous amount of difficulty expressing why mass

incarceration is an ineffective strategy and convincing state legislators to reallocate funds if we

lack experience or credibility. Although, the policy advocacy approach could prove to be

somewhat effective if implemented properly, the grassroots proposal allows for us to work on a

smaller, local scale, ultimately making a more realistic and effective impact in the Detroit

community, thus effecting change on a much more personal level.

Our group also evaluated the overall benefits and costs of both solutions, and concluded

that the most effective solutions still lie within the grassroots action proposal. By following the

framework provided by the Center for Urban Studies, we hope to achieve the same success that

they have experienced in Midtown. Per the Kresge Foundation News Service, Since 2009, the

Midtown area of Detroit has seen a 45 percent reduction in crime with an innovative

collaboration by residents, law enforcement agencies and volunteers. (Kresge par. 2). The

organizations success was remarkable; however, because the Center for Urban Studies is an

organization piloted through Wayne State University, their efforts did not expand beyond the

Midtown area. Our hope as a group would be to partner with The Center for Urban Studies and

expand their practice beyond Midtown and into different crime afflicted areas of Detroit.

Alternatively, in relation to the policy change approach, it appears that lowering mass

incarceration also reduces crime. To expand, statistics have shown that there is a strong

correlation between low incarceration rates and low crime rates. Hence, although both potential

solutions have a vast amount of upside, several different organizations, such as the Center for

Urban Studies and MindUP, have had success in Detroit communities by following the grassroots

action proposal. Based on our research, our group concludes that establishing a service-based

organization would be the most effective solution to lower crime rates in Detroit.

To reiterate, the three spheres of action associated with this specific solution include the

private sphere, the civic sphere, and the government sphere. The private sphere is exposed to

daily crime, and unfortunately, Detroit residents quality of life is negatively affected. The

portion of the government sphere that is associated with our solution is primarily the local level,

rather than the state and federal level, because the local police officers deal with local crime

daily; therefore, they are more equipped to handle the crime that occurs in Detroit. Lastly, our

non-profit organization, which represents the civic sphere, would work to organize events to

form a crime fighting coalition. Our organization would collaborate with other crime fighting

agencies such as the Center for Urban Studies and The Wayne State University Police

Department. The Center for Urban Studies could offer us the opportunity to recruit new

volunteers and help us gather the needed labor force to institute change. We would also attend

CompStat events hosted by the Wayne State University Police Department to identify crime

hotspots and understand which areas to target. This multi-sphere proposal has proven effective in

the past, and by emulating the same concepts, our hypothetical organization would be able to

effectively lower crime rates at a low cost.


Through community service learning, my groupmates and I expanded our knowledge on

the issue of public safety in Detroit, and were educated on a different perspective with regards to

crime. After ten hours of volunteering, my groupmates and I had only cleaned a couple

neighborhoods, a microscopic amount compared to the number of neighborhoods that needed

cleanup. Although this initially felt quite discouraging, throughout the course of volunteering, we

were constantly being motivated by residents of the area. After three hours of cleaning up public

streets plagued by garbage around the neighborhoods of a local elementary school, we felt that

there was just an overwhelming amount of trash and that we could not make a real difference.

Much to our surprise, as we were working, a lady in a car drove by and stopped and rolled down

her window to encourage us. We began talking to her and she was extremely thankful for the

efforts we were putting in, and even asked how she could get involved with future events. As we

continued to work, more cars would come to thank us for our work and one person joined us in

cleaning. This provided an immense amount of motivation and taught my groupmates and myself

a very important lesson: Detroit residents are extremely passionate about their city and care

about its well-being enough to get involved when they see that there is hope for a collective

effort to work towards progress. However, the common misconception among most is that the

structural barriers are too great to institute effective change. Amazingly, we learned that when

provided with an institution to combat crime, Detroit residents are more than willing to help. We

learned that it is a cooperative relationship between many groups, including residents,

businesses, volunteers and the police that will ultimately affect positive change.

By becoming active agents through service learning, in an attempt to improve public

safety in Detroit, an issue that is surrounded by an abundance of structural barriers, my

groupmates and I have established an effective proposal to lower crime rates. We were able to

expand our knowledge through interacting with passionate community members of Detroit, and

through our research, we ourselves became invested in the well-being of Detroit. After

conducting in-depth research regarding public safety in Detroit, it is understandable why

residents believe that the structural barriers are too difficult to overcome. Without developing

extensive knowledge regarding the history of crime, the causes and effects of crime, and the

efforts that have been made to stop crime, developing a framework to combat crime can seem an

impossible task. However, by forming an organization that follows the successful framework

established by the Center for Urban Studies, our group can be successful in lowering crime rates

through the grassroots proposal action.


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