Naysayers who think Port Huron is on the road to ruin might be profoundly mistaken, but they have a right to their opinion.
What makes that view virtually impossible to consider seriously is their attempts to compare Port Huron to Detroit. The two cities have little in common.
Detroit is a major American city — Michigan’s largest — with more than 700,000 residents. Port Huron’s population is about 30,000.
The challenges the Motor City faces — a high crime rate, chronic unemployment and impending bankruptcy — are daunting, and they dwarf the problems of Port Huron.
Either an extraordinarily kind of ambition or profound delusion would prompt anyone to compare the problems of Detroit to those of Port Huron. Nevertheless, “Little Detroit” is a derogatory term trotted out whenever a horrific crime is committed or fears that Port Huron is a mecca for legions of the poor and destitute who migrate for its supposed wealth of services that assist them.
The latter is fueled with anecdotes and no hard facts. But Port Huron’s public safety is easily documented.
When it comes to violent crime, Port Huron’s rate isn’t in Detroit’s league. In 2011, the FBI reported Detroit’s had more than 21 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Flint’s rate was more than 23 per 1,000 residents.
Port Huron had barely fewer than seven violent crimes per 1,000 people in 2011 — and the rate has been declining since 2006, when the city had nine violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
Battle Creek had 9.2 violent crimes per 1,000 people, according to the FBI. Lansing had 10.2 per 1,000.
That’s not to say Port Huron doesn’t have a crime problem. It does. But threats to public safety are far from the crisis levels Detroit and other troubled Michigan cities endure.
The first step for any community is to accurately identify the problem it faces. Port Huron appears to have a credible assessment of its crime problem and is taking steps to address it.
The city’s community policing program is building a strong alliance between neighborhoods and police. The cooperation promises to help prevent crime and keep it from becoming the problem it is in some of Michigan’s larger cities.
Port Huron is far from doomed. It is a city with work required to reach its potential.
Port Huron is no “Little Detroit.” The obstacles it faces aren’t small, but they ought to be identified accurately.
Times Herald, Port Huron