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Detroit Crime Down, Except Murders

August 19, 1999

DETROIT (AP) _ The city’s murder rate, already among the highest in the nation, has jumped 16.7 percent in the first half of 1999, although other serious crimes dropped.

The city recorded 57,736 serious crimes from January through June, a 15.8 percent drop over the same period a year ago. The largest drop came in larcenies, which were down 25.5 percent, while assaults, auto thefts, burglaries, rapes and robberies also declined.

But murders were up 16.7 percent to 224. Mayor Dennis Archer and Police Chief Benny Napoleon said the increase was baffling _ especially after declining in 1998 _ because it had no clear cause and no obvious solution.

``I wish we had sufficient police officers that we could put an officer on every corner of the streets where we live,″ Archer said. ``The reality is that the homicides that are taking place are taking place behind closed doors.″

Detroit’s murder rate still ranks among the highest in the country. In 1998 Detroit had 429 murders, or 44.2 per 100,000 people, ranking it sixth among U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. In recent years, murder has been the leading cause of death among children and young adults.

Crime has been a sore spot for Detroit leaders for many years. Safety was often cited as a cause of flight to the suburbs; poverty and drugs were blamed for driving crime rates up.

Making people feel safe was one of Archer’s prime goals when he took office in 1994, and since then Detroit’s crime rate has gone down, mirroring a national trend.

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