Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

January 4, 2013

Detroit reports 386 criminal homicides in 2012

DETROIT (AP) — The number of killings in Detroit increased 12 percent last year, even though overall crime was down.

Criminal homicides accounted for 386 of the 461 death investigations in 2012, Mayor Dave Bing announced Thursday. That was 42 more than the year before. The city distinguishes criminal homicides, in which charges are or can be filed, from justifiable homicides.

"We've lost respect for each other. We've lost respect for life," Bing told reporters at City Hall.

Shootings accounted for 333 of last year's criminal homicides — up from 302 in 2011 and 254 in 2010.

"America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit," interim Police Chief Chester Logan said. "If I had 1,000 more police officers in the city of Detroit, I don't know what kind of impact it would have."

City officials said criminal homicides, robberies and car thefts increased last year even as overall crime declined by 2.5 percent.

Violence is just one of Detroit's problems. Bing has spent the initial three years of his first four-year term trying to fix the city's finances and restructure an outdated and inefficient City Hall infrastructure. The accumulated general fund deficit is about $327 million.

A state-appointed review team is looking over Detroit's books to determine if a financial emergency exists. If that determination is reached, Gov. Rick Snyder could appoint a manager to oversee its finances.

Detroit's population, which dropped by a quarter-million people between 2000 and 2010, continues to fall and could be below 700,000. The city's tax base also has plummeted and monthly expenses often outpace revenue.

To help cut costs, Bing plans to lay off 400 to 500 city employees from a workforce that has seen more than 1,000 jobs lost during his time as mayor.

He has not laid off police officers, but positions made vacant through attrition have not been filled.

Officials on Thursday would not divulge the number of police officers currently working in the city.

"Bad people are listening also," Logan said of information released during Thursday's news conference.

"We certainly don't want to frighten anybody, but it's sufficient," he said of staffing levels.

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