The Metro: Detroit residents respond to block party violence, new community policing strategy

There were shootings at six different block parties in Detroit over a three-day period last week, according to city officials.

Community leader Teferi Brent speaks at a press conference following the mass shooting at a "pop-up" block party in Detroit on Sunday, July 7, 2024.

Community leader Teferi Brent speaks at a press conference on July 8, 2024, following the mass shooting at a "pop-up" block party in Detroit.

Tragedy hit several individuals and their families in Detroit this past Sunday, when 19 people were wounded and two were killed in a mass shooting at a “pop-up” block party.

Days later, Mayor Mike Duggan spoke at a press conference about violence at block parties, stating that there had been shootings at six different block parties over a three-day period, starting on the 4th.

Violent crime in Detroit has dropped significantly in recent years, according to the city, with 252 murders reported last year – the lowest number since 1966. But following Sunday’s shooting – the third mass shooting in Detroit since June 1 – city officials say they are cracking down on so-called “pop-up” block parties by rolling out an 80-officer patrol unit and promising faster responses to 911 reports about block parties and other neighborhood issues.

Detroit residents Sandra Turner-Handy and George Preston joined The Metro on Wednesday to discuss the new policing strategy and their efforts to reduce violence in their community.

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Turner-Handy is the president of the Denby Neighborhood Alliance and has lived in the 48205 zip code for 26 years. Preston is the president of the Mohican-Regent Resident Association, where Sunday’s mass shooting occurred and where he has lived for 39 years.

They both are past recipients of the city’s community violence intervention grant and have been diligently working towards lowering the number of fatal and nonfatal shootings in their community.

“After what happened again, now we’re just looking at what we can do to impact,” Preston said. “So we’re going to meet with the block club, we’re going to talk to the people in the community about what we can do as a community to impact any other problems that may pop up in our neighborhood, and also, what we can do as a result of what has happened the other evening.”

Turner-Handy welcomes the efforts by the city to improve their strategies around community policing to help reduce incidents of violence.

“As one of the participants at the mayor’s press conference, I am glad to hear that we are increasing the number of officers that will be patrolling, looking for these pop-up block parties, because we have no way now with their sophisticated way of direct messaging our young people to attend these parties where we’re not getting that information,” Turner-Handy said.

Preston said that his neighborhood has always had a good rapport with police because they attend meetings to listen and work hand-in-hand with community members to reduce violence. While some might be concerned about over policing, Preston said good communication between the residents and the officers will eliminate that problem.

“Now one of the things that we are going to do now in my community, we’re going to meet with our block club members. And we’re going to explain to them the procedure that they have to go through if they want to have a block party,” Preston said. “We want the police to be aware because then they can be there to give it special attention to make sure that it doesn’t reach these large numbers and get out of hand.”

Preston and Turner-Handy are hopeful that their efforts and an increase of police patrol will reduce violence in the community. Part of those efforts will involve ensuring future block parties in the city stay both safe and legal.

“In order to throw a proper block party [you need] to get your permit. Pay the few dollars that you need to pay, so that you can assure your community, your neighbors, their children in your area are safe from harm and danger because you are putting safety parameters around the event to make sure that everyone has a good time, and everyone returns to their home at night,” Turner-Handy said. “This is very simple to do it the right way.” 

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Turner-Handy and Preston.

More headlines from The Metro on July 10, 2024:

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  • Justin Milhouse is a Detroit born photographer, videographer and creative director, operating out of the Woodbridge neighborhood. His “Faces of Michigan Central” exhibit showcases portraits of some of those behind Michigan Central Station’s past and present renovation. He joined the show to talk about his artistic journey as a photographer. 
  • WDET is hosting another Smart Politics event at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Rind in Berkley to discuss all things politics and inform voters ahead of the upcoming election. To preview that event, Jerome Vaughn, WDET’s news director and the host of the Smart Politics event, and Matt Friedman, the co-founder of the public relations firm Tanner Friedman and a guest at the event tonight, joined the show. 

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