DETROIT (WXYZ) - - It may not seem like it – but the murder rate is going
down across the country. The problem is, the number of homicides
that detectives are solving has also been dropping, especially in
That’s bad news for victim’s families.
Solving murders in Detroit is a tough business. For example in
2008, Detroit police say they solved only 34% of their homicides.
And police admit – that just isn’t good enough.
Between the guns, the drugs, and the senseless killings --
Detroit has earned its reputation as murder central. There are
actually 30 fewer homicides so far this year in Detroit than in
2009. But up until recently, the rate at which detectives closed
those cases has been awful – hovering around 37% during an 8
year stretch. For the families of homicide victims -- that low
closure rate is painful.
Vicky Cupp/Kyle Smith’s Mother: "The holidays are just horrible – they’re the
worst. I mean, she called me everyday – it was always I love
Vicky Cupp’s daughter, Kyle Smith, was the young woman
gunned down during Detroit’s Super Bowl weekend celebration
in 2006. The hard working 24 year old was from rural Tecumseh
– but she loved living in the big city.
Vicky Cupp/Kyle Smith’s Mother: "I’d hate to see somebody else… go through the
pain I went through, losing my daughter."
Vicky says even though detectives came up with a person of
interest – no one has been charged with the killing.
Vicky Cupp/Kyle Smith’s Mother:
"I would love to see it solved."
The national average for closing homicide cases is about 61%.
So why is Detroit’s so low?
For starters – Detroit no longer has its own crime
Lt. Dwane Blackmon/DPD Homicide: "Sometimes you don’t have people who are willing to
come forward and speak."
Homicide Commanding Officer Lt. Dwayne Blackmon says one of the
biggest things that hurts homicide cases is Detroit’s
pervasive anti-snitch attitude. And Motown isn’t the only
place where people don’t talk.
According to federal crime statistics, Chicago’s homicide
case closure rate is also low - only 35%. Chicago like Detroit
– has an extremely high volume of murders: from 1980 through
2008 – they had 19,699.
Detroit during that same time had 14,460 homicides.
Philadelphia isn’t far behind us with 10,719 murders. They
used to be called Killadelphia -- but now Philly has an overall
case closure rate of 72%.
How did they do it? Their Deputy Police Commissioner says
department leadership has to make solving cases a priority.
Richard Ross/Philadelphia Police: "It’s working the homicides diligently, day in and day
Detroit is now aiming to surpass Philly’s closure rate
with a whole new way to tackle crime.
Insp. Eric Jones/DPD Mobile Strike Force: "We go where the violence is."
Inspector Eric Jones heads up Detroit’s new Mobile Strike
Force – a group of elite officers.
Insp. Eric Jones/DPD Mobile Strike Force: "It’s constantly in your face, and you look at the
numbers, are they going up, are they going down? I live by
Each morning, Inspector Jones looks at where the crime happened
in the last 24 hours, then he floods that area with the strike
Action News reporter Heather Catallo recently got to see the
strike force in action. Within minutes, Officers Derald Penn and
Chad Hopkins bust a guy they say is selling marijuana at this east
side gas station.
Offc. Chad Hopkins/Detroit Police: "We were on him so quick he didn’t have enough time to
go – Stash it? Stash it."
Offc. Fred Person/Detroit Police: "What’s up big fella – you got a drivers
Later Officers Fred Person and Myron Watkins – ticket two
young men for having no ID.
Offc. Fred Person/Detroit Police: "Hey, y’all got any more marijuana up here, or
y’all smoked it all?"
Their car gets towed, which police say goes a long way in
preventing gun crimes.
Offc. Fred Person/Detroit Police: "Cause if they don’t have a car to do it – most
of them are, they’re not going to walk anywhere to do
I watched as they also busted a guy they say was selling drugs
from this abandoned house.
Offc. Myron Watkins/Detroit Police: "She was signaling him."
Offc. Fred Person/Detroit Police: "What’s going on with you today, player?"
Offc. Myron Watkins/Detroit Police: "And what do we have here? You have about 80 packs of
heroine… and you might have about 30 dimes. Crack
For the Mobile Strike Force – the more drug dealers they
can bust, the more guns they can take off the street – that
slows down the fatal shootings. And that reduction in crime frees
the homicide detectives to finish the cases they already have.
Lt. Dwane Blackmon/DPD Homicide: "Every case needs to be solved. Every family needs to have
Kyle Smith’s mother couldn’t agree more.
Vicky Cupp/Kyle Smith’s Mother: "I would like to have some closure on it."
Detectives say their person of interest in Kyle Smith’s
case is now behind bars for something else – and
they’re hoping someone will come forward with some new
information that links him directly to her murder.
Detroit police say since the Mobile Strike Force has been in
place, the department is solving around 60% of the homicides.
You can see more of our ride along with the Mobile Strike
Force in the video player.