In Detroit, the Private Sector Keeps Us Safe
Detroit is known as the murder capital of the world, the Motor City, and most recently as the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Failures in both the public and private sector are a problem, but the city will never recover unless it can change the perceived culture of fear and violence. While finding the money for more law enforcement is difficult while under bankruptcy, there are many private sector initiatives that are going a long way to making the Motor City a safer place. These initiatives are a huge draw for for businesses and families, which is the only thing that will allow Detroit to rise from the ashes of Chapter 9. But luckily for the city of Detroit, the private sector has stepped up and changed the dynamic of safety in the city.
While in Detroit, I had the privilege of talking with multiple people who have spent years combatting these negative perceptions. A man by the name of Dale Brown, who started Detroit Threat Management Center, realized that combatting violence with violence only begets more violence. Instead, he chose to use psychology as a tool to change the behavior. He empowers citizens to protect themselves by being smarter than their situation. Brown quickly realized that the police were not going to be much help in his mission:
All law enforcement is based upon the constant persecution and prosecution of the indigenous people…I knew I had to believe in my mission, be success oriented and positive…profit comes from success.
In over 20 years, Mr. Brown has never had one of his team members killed or taken to court and only six people have ever been shot. Brown engages in guerrilla tactics such as staging an arrest as a policeman of his students, telling criminals that the police are on their way, and placing a desk with a sign in sheet at the front of a building, because “people who engage in illegal activity don’t carry an ID.”
Other Detroit natives have gone a different route, focusing on identification and preservation of specific areas. Dan Gilbert, the Detroit native and investor on a mission to revitalize the city, has also created a security hub setup with thousands of cameras to monitor crime within Detroit. Gilbert has an incentive to protect his investments and the city of Detroit; without security his return on investment won’t be as successful. While some, like me, may be skeptical of constant surveillance, Gilbert does share access to the footage with the Detroit Police Department. This has contributed to a drop in crime in the areas surrounding Mr. Gilbert’s buildings.
But Detroit natives aren’t the only ones who see the value of investing in the safety of Detroit. Since the recession, The Manhattan Institute has done wonders in the city of Detroit. The application of their Broken Windows theory has led to the drop in home invasions, a consistent problem in the city. The theory focuses on fixing things like broken windows and graffiti makes places safer to live. Since the Manhattan Institute’s involvement, home invasions are down 26%. One of Detroit’s biggest challenges will be to bring outside talent and capital to help revitalize the city. The initiatives started by the Manhattan Institute and people like Dale Brown show that increasing safety can be done effectively by the private sector with limited government involvement.