'A Real Detroit Comeback Is Not in Sight' -- Blogger Bill Johnson, an Ex-Journalist
November 26th, 2017, 5:51 PM
Retired opinion journalist Bill Johnson still doesn't mince words. The frank, forceful style that marked his editorials and columns during 15 years at The Detroit News is on view in a blog post headlined "The Politics of Violence."
"The absence of bold, aggressive policing policies" is at least partly responsible for "violence as a continuing and disturbing fact of Detroit life," he suggests..
His language sizzles and gets overheated in spots. He sees "carnage looming on the horizon" and alludes to "victims who struggle against the odds to survive."
The latest FBI report shows 13,705 violent crimes reported in Detroit last year -- up more than 15 percent from the 2015, notes Johnson, a public affairs consultant who divides his time between Detroit and Goodyear, Ariz. (suburban Phoenix).
"Detroit has few peers when it comes to residents being assaulted, raped, robbed, burglarized or caught in the crossfire of gangs and the drug trade," says Sunday's 10-paragraph post.
Police Chief James Craig took issue with the FBI’s numbers. His objection was . . . a weak attempt to mask the fact that he hasn’t been able to deploy a comprehensive anti-crime strategy. Even substituting his numbers for the FBI’s, Detroit is still an extremely dangerous place.
The problem boils down to this: Not enough criminals are placed in jeopardy and too few are exposed to the full force of the law. Thus, by neglect, the city tolerates lawlessness and pays a cost in the uninterrupted suffering of victims. . . .
Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council have yet to show much foresight or resolve. . . . Both have the responsibility to assess the police department’s crime-fighting apparatus, management and deployment of its forces. Supposedly, they budget funds to match the crisis. There is no higher government priority.
Johnson doesn't specify get-tougher policies he'd like to see, beyond calling generally for more aggressive policing. His "full force of the law" endorsement presumably covers the county prosecutor's office and the judiciary, which have key law enforcement roles. But his post aims solely at Craig, Duggan and council members.
The feisty blogger, who was at The News from 1987-2002, also faults Detroiters for not pressing the issue of street safety more forcefully:
The resolve of Detroiters to compel the mayor, council and the police chief to control crime leaves much to be desired. . . .
Mayor Duggan and the City Council will put together a real response to the violence when vigilant voters begin to oust those who fail to perform. . . .
Nothing stops the heartbeat of a city vying to be relevant more than the unabated crime trend. And if we start from the premise that any city that can’t perform this basic function probably can’t do anything else well, a real Detroit comeback is not in sight – it is in jeopardy.