Detroit's violent Fourth of July weekend leads to new community policing around block parties

After a violent holiday weekend in Detroit where more than two dozen people were shot and three died, both the city and its police department are deploying a new strategy that targets the source of nearly 30 non-fatal shootings in the first week of July: Block parties.

It was an unsanctioned block party on Detroit's east side where the majority of the shootings that police responded to this weekend took place. Twenty-one people were struck and two died after what chief James White called a "shootout."

It was one of six illegal parties that were held over the Fourth of July holiday weekend that police responded to. In total, 27 people were shot and three people died.

Police are now elevating all 911 calls regarding illegal parties, while beefing up its neighborhood policing and communication with the community groups that work to reduce violence in some of the worst parts of Detroit.

"We're not going to have neighbors becoming hostages in their own homes," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

In addition to the mayor, the Wayne County prosecutor was also in attendance during a Monday press conference. She was flanked by other community activists and police officers. 

Kym Worthy declined to go into specifics about the investigation and no one has been charged. She said a full probe of the shooting that happened in the 13000 block of Rossini around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday would take time and there was a lot of evidence to examine. 

She promised more details about the specific case later in the week. 

Of the 21 total victims, 15 were female and six were male with ages ranging from 17–27 years old. 

One added ingredient to the case that police did speak about was who was injured. Duggan said 40% of those hurt lived outside of Detroit, including people from Warren, Southfield, Taylor, Oak Park, Clinton Township, Eastpointe, and St. Clair Shores.

Guests came from as far as northern Ohio and around 300 were in attendance. 

"We're not talking about your typical barbecues. This is not what we've all grown up with, that we look forward to in Detroit," said White. "These are not the ones we're talking about - we're talking about events that have large numbers of people from as far as 50 miles away that are showing up armed in many instances with a sense of lawlessness."

Police said the event was organized without a permit or street closures. Those behind the planning use social media to get the word out about big events, then tell anyone interested in attending to direct message them. 


Detroit block party shooting kills 2, injures 19 others

Police did not confirm if someone had been arrested in connection with the shooting. An update will come Monday.

The first police officers who arrived were responding to a separate block party when 911 calls came in and shotspotter technology detected gunfire. Over 100 shell casings were found and ine weapons were recovered in the aftermath. 

One gun had a glock switch, which can turn a handgun into an automatic weapon.

So far, no one is in custody for the shooting.

Going forward, police will raise any 911 call about a pop-up block party to a priority one call. Previously, they were labeled a priority three call. 

There will also be an increase in radio patrol and dialogue with community ambassadors, as well as police officers deployed to neighborhoods to patrol and keep an eye on anything unusual or unsanctioned. 

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