Detroit Police chief seeks to alleviate safety concerns ahead of NFL Draft

Some parts of downtown Detroit expected to host the upcoming NFL Draft in April will be designated as gun-free zones, the police chief said Thursday, as the city prepares for one of the biggest events in recent memory.

Chief James White sought to assuage concerns that may have intensified after a shooting broke out at another football-related event in Kansas City where one person died and 22 were injured following a dispute at the city's Super Bowl parade.

The gun-free zones in and around Campus Martius where the NFL Draft will unfold will be one of the security measures that visitors will see. But there will be other measures not visible to the public, including undercover officers and DPD's use of its real-time crime center.

"It's an intelligence unit with intelligent people that know exactly what they're doing," he said.

The draft is expected to draw about 300,000 people to Detroit. It comes with commerce and other economic benefits the city is excited about hauling in.

But it also comes with the unpredictable nature of inviting large crowds into confined spaces. White said the department will be ready for all kinds of potential threats during the three-day event as it's spent the last two years strategizing how to proceed.

They also have experience from previous events that have come through Detroit.

"We've hosted everything from Taylor Swift to Beyoncé. The Lions this year did their thing very well, they brought about 70k fans every week that they had a home game to our city," he said.

The shooting in Kansas City was notable because it happened despite 600 law enforcement officers working the event. White said the celebration parade was different from what they're preparing for - an NFL-sanctiond event - and the security measures will reflect that.

They'll also have help from the FBI, Michigan State police, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, and the ATF. There will also be K9 and aerial units to assist. 

White added the police department has benefited from a community interested in working to help them police events and crowds.

"Our community have shown us whether through the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the fireworks, or the Grand Prix, that they prepare for events of this scale," White said. "We've been able to police them, we've been able to deliver very safe events without incident, all while reducing crime in our amazing community."


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