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High-Crime Areas in Detroit Prompts Help from Sheriff

High-Crime Areas in Detroit Prompts Help from Sheriff

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

October 10, 2010

DETROIT — Residents of Osborn community on the city’s northeast side are hoping that a new patrol will stem crimes that have plagued the area.

In September alone, there were more than 500 crimes such as arson, assault and burglary in the McNichols and Gratiot area, said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. So he has dedicated five deputies who are available to respond to crimes in that area and who are available by cellular phone to handle problems.

The deputies operate independent of 911 calls and will be flexible in setting up their hours so they are available during the night and daytime, Napoleon said today during a press conference announcing the patrols, dubbed SCOUT or Sheriff’s Organized Urban Team.

“We are not a substitute for 911,” Napoleon said. “We are an additional tool for the citizens of the area or the officers in the Detroit Police Department.”

The deputies will work with the Maintaining A Neighborhood (MAN) Network patrol that already is in place. About 50 people from the area participate in the patrols and welcome the deputies’ help.

“We are thrilled. We are honored. We are blessed,” said network founder Anthony Russell. “This gives us a sense of not being alone.”

The patrols started on Monday and deputies arrested a man who had stolen a purse in the area and was using a credit card from the purse to buy gas he was then selling to people for cash, Napoleon said.

He hopes to compile such arrests to show to federal officials so the $500,000 grant used for the patrols is continued. The money runs out in the spring. Napoleon said the funding had been in place for some time, but did not specify how long.

“This is community policing at its best,” Napoleon said.

The sheriff, who is running for re-election, said the patrol isn’t being offered because Detroit police officers aren’t doing their job. He said it is being offered because cooperative efforts are needed to end crime.

“This is not about turf,” Napoleon said. “We are way past that.”

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. has said he welcomes collaborative law enforcement efforts and will work with other agencies to fight crime.

Neighborhood activist Anita Ashford said the patrols will only do some good if residents step up and call the deputies if they know about a crime.

“It doesn’t exclude us as a community from what we need to do,” she said of the patrols. “We have to come forward.”

For information, call (313) 526-4000, ext. 15, or visit

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