Detroit Mayor Duggan promises crime reduction, blight removal in 10th State of the City address

Duggan gave his speech inside the restored Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gives his 10th State of the City address at Michigan Central Station in Detroit, Mich. on March 7, 2023.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gives his 10th State of the City address at Michigan Central Station in Detroit, Mich. on March 7, 2023.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his 10th State of the City address Tuesday night inside the restored Grand Lobby of Corktown’s Michigan Central Station.

One of the topics Duggan covered is the spike in violent crime during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says his administration is addressing this issue by improving wages for police officers but knows that’s not enough.

“Detroit Police are very good at taking the gun out of the shooters’ hands, but they don’t have the ability to take the anger out of the shooters’ hearts.”

Activists have been advocating for a more community-based approach to fighting crime for decades.

The city will offer non-profits $1.4 million in grants during the next two years to lower violent crime in dangerous neighborhoods.

“This is what we’re going to try, and I don’t know if it’s going to work, but we’re going to try to do this by holding these groups accountable for their own theory,” Duggan said. “What happens if you get the police and the courts and the community activist working together? Can we change the hearts — can we diffuse the anger in some of these neighborhoods? This is what we’re going to try in the next year.”

Duggan is calling this the Shot Stopper program, named in similar fashion to the controversial ShotSpotter surveillance system law enforcement uses that has not been proven to reduce violent crime.

Read: Detroit City Council approves $7 million expansion of ShotSpotter program

Blight removal is ‘closer to the end’

Duggan also touted the progress his administration has made when it comes to blight removal in the city.

“(Former Detroit Mayor) Jerry Cavanagh and the council promised to rid Detroit of abandoned homes in 1965. And here we are 60 years later, and I won’t tell you we’re at the end, but we’ve reached the beginning of the end,” said Duggan. He also added that the Detroit Land Bank Authority owned 47,000 vacant homes when he took office in 2014, and now they own just 7,000.

Duggan says neighborhoods are safer and improving.

“We are at a point now (where) we can build the kind of neighborhoods we all want. And this year we’re going to clear another 1,000 alleys — we’ve got 2,000 down (and) this will be another 1,000. Next year we’ll finish.”

Future of District Detroit

Duggan praised the work of the Ilitch family to make good on completing their long-promised District Detroit development.

The family that owns the Little Caesars pizza chain, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, purchased land — often from the city for pennies on the dollar — and then allowed them to be vacant for decades.

Duggan promises that will change.

“These vacant parking lots that everybody’s complained about…it’s going to turn them into four new office buildings and two new hotels, 695 apartments that are going to accept section 8 vouchers,” stated Duggan.

The District Detroit will be getting $800 million in tax breaks from the Downtown Development Authority and the State of Michigan.

Duggan claims that once the development is finished, the sites will generate $21 million in annual tax revenue for the city.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.