Detroit police, city report lowest murders in 50 years

The latest crime reports show homicides in Detroit are down for the first time in more than 50 years, according to Detroit Police. Now, DPD is making their case against the critics who say the figures don't tell the whole story.

The department says 267 homicides occurred in Detroit in 2017. That would be the fewest number of homicides since 1966, when there were 214.

DPD Chief James Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan say they're serious about the safety of Detroit.

"We are serious about supporting this community and we're serious about making this one of the safest cities in America," Craig said.

"People say 'wow it was a miracle'. It wasn't a miracle it was a lot of good people sitting down together," Duggan added.

Detroit Police are partnering with a dozen other local, state and federal agencies including the FBI, Wayne state police, the ATF, and the US Attorney's Office.

"This is a remarkable success story. I don't think anybody standing up here would say 'we're declaring victory and going home'. This is the beginning," US Attorney Dan Lemish said.

The Department of Justice is the primary partner in what Craig says has been a proven success: Ceasefire Detroit. That program focuses on gangs or street crews by enforcing laws, but also on prevention and intervention.

"If there is one shooting, the full affect of law enforcement is going to focus on you or your group," Craig said.

He said from 2016 to 2017, there were 118 federal indictments issued against major gangs, including the 7 Mile Bloods, Playboy Crips, and the A1 Killers.

"Who are the shooters? Who are the people that are committing this gun violence? Those are the people we indict," Lemish said.

Craig attributes a drop in nearly every category of major crime in Detroit in the last 2 years - which includes carjackings which are down by 41 percent - to programs like Project Greenlight and the city's real-time crime center. Craig also says hiring more police officers played a major role. The city hired 303 cops in 2016 but hired 359 in 2017.

Some Detroiters say they do feel safer but others question the accuracy of these statistics. In 2016, the FBI ranked Detroit as the country's most violent large city. 

Craig faults an outdated computer system for the dubious title.

"We've been working a system, records management system called CRISNET that was broken when we took it on. We hired a doctor out of Wayne State so that we could make sure the numbers we were reporting are accurate."

Craig says the perception of crime is just as important and that the department plans to expand Ceasefire to the entire city in 2018.

The Ceasefire Detroit initiative is a multi-agency effort addressing gang-related gun crime.  

Project Green Light is a community safety approach that has includes 231 gas stations, restaurants, party stores, residential buildings and more.