Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Mayor Duggan, Chief White share crime-fighting message: ‘Leave the gun at home’

Mayor Duggan, Chief White share crime-fighting message: ‘Leave the gun at home’

June 1, 2022

By Crain’s Content Studio 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Policing is only part of the solution to curtailing crime. Helping individuals secure jobs is another; so is eliminating blight and other areas where crime traditionally occurs in a city.  
  • The city is using civilian officers trained in social media analysis and surveillance to help address a problem with drag-racing in the city; often, groups of individuals plan meetups on social media.  
  • Recruitment of police officers is a key priority for the city. Over the past two years, the city has lost an average of 20 officers a month to retirement while graduating that same amount of officers monthly from the academy. 

 width=Curbing violent crime in the city of Detroit is all about changing decisions. That was the sentiment shared by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Police Department Chief James White, who joined moderator Stephen Henderson for a conversation on the main stage Wednesday, June 1, at the Mackinac Policy Conference. Henderson is executive editor of Bridge Detroit and host of Detroit Today and American Black Journal on Detroit Public Television. 

White was named to the Chief position in 2021. In a wide-ranging interview that touched on the department’s data- and technology-driven approaches to policing, White and Duggan circled back repeatedly to decision-making. 

“There is no question what is causing the violent crime that is soaring across the country,” Duggan said. “What’s happening is that a lot of folks are carrying guns, and so every interpersonal conflict is violent. 

 width=“The moment that an individual sticks a gun under their waistband and walks out of the house in the morning, we have lost because something is going to happen. So, everything we are doing is saying to people: Leave the gun at home.” 

White agreed and said gun violence is his biggest worry. “I worry about people being the victims of senseless gun violence. We are ending a life by pulling a trigger.” 

To help prevent people from bringing guns into public spaces, for instance, the city is using a few innovative tactics. Duggan said he recently installed outdoor gun surveillance machines similar to metal detectors that can detect the shape of a gun on a person – these could be helpful in Greektown or at block parties or large-scale outdoor events like fireworks. Also, a Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program has placed officers specially trained in mental health in several city precincts.  

There is some evidence that the approach the city is taking to change decision-making is working: homicides and shootings in Detroit are down 20 percent from one year ago. “Summer is coming, and nobody declares victory before summer is coming,” White cautioned, however. 

Jerry Norcia, chairman, president, and Chief Executive Officer, DTE Energy, introduced Duggan and White.

The session was sponsored by DTE Energy.