Retired cop James Jackson, left, and Keith Hines are citizen-patrol partners in Jefferson-Chalmers, Detroit. Photo via The Daily
The days of the wild, wild west when citizens would take up arms and protect their families from bandits seems like a theme of the past, but a growing trend among Detroit residents finds that many are turning to Second Amendment solutions to counteract a lack of police assistance.
According to a new article by the online newspaper, The Daily, justifiable homicide rates in Detroit increased by 79 percent in 2011 (from 19 people killed in 2010 to 34 people in 2011) as many residents have armed themselves to make up for a lack of police protection. Unable to rely on a police force stricken by budget cuts and layoffs (there are just 3000 officers to protect a city of 700,000), self-defense killings in the city are at an all-time high and are 2,200 percent higher than the national average.
One resident, Julia Brown, likened the uptick in armed residents to the Old West.
"We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That's what it's gonna take," Brown informed The Daily. The 73-year-old woman told the paper the last time she called the police, they didn't show up until the next day. After that, she applied for a permit to carry a gun, vowing not to be a victim of the troublemakers who are terrorizing her neighborhood.
"I don't intend to be one of their victims," she said. "I'm planning on taking one out."
Brown isn't the only one thinking of taking the law into her own hands.
One high-ranking official in the county legal system, speaking to The Daily, said the rise in justifiable homicides mirrors a local court system that's increasingly lenient of the practice.
"It's a lot more acceptable now to get your own retribution," the official said. "And the justice system in the city is a lot more understanding if people do that. It's becoming a part of the culture."
Detroiters are arming themselves with shotguns and handguns and buying guard dogs. Anything to take care of their own. And privately, residents say neighborhood watch groups in Detroit are widely armed.
"It's like the militiamen who stepped up way back when. That's where the neighborhood folks are," said James "Jackrabbit" Jackson, a 63-year-old retired Detroit cop who has patrolled the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood for years.
"They're ready to fight," Jackson said. "We don't hardly see police anymore."
The city's wealthier enclaves have hired private security firms. Intimidating men in armored trucks patrol streets lined with gracious old homes in a scene more likely seen in Mexico City than the United States.
While some residents have armed themselves and set up citizen patrols, others have decided it's safer to move. After being robbed a gunpoint in his upper-middle class neighborhood, Kevin Earlythe director of the criminal justice studies program at the University of Michigan's Dearborn campusdecided to move.
Detroit has had it rough over the years: unemployment, mismanaged city funds, and layoffs have continued to plague the city. Despite this, however, the residents of the D have been resilient, working hard to not only protect what they've built over the years, but working to rebuild the city they love.
What do you think about people taking the law into their own hands?