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Detroit police board, officials discuss COVID’s impact on crime

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Detroit – Wayne County domestic violence-related homicides have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, Wayne County Attorney Kym Worthy said Thursday during a virtual forum hosted by law enforcement officials and other stakeholders.

Wayne County attorneys typically handle 8 to 10 domestic violence-related homicides a year, but last year it was 24 – “and we’re on track to go further this year,” Worthy said during the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. Round table on criminal murder cases and non-fatal shootings. “

Several topics were covered during the nearly two-hour virtual meeting, including a year-long backlog of trials due to the pandemic, early prison release and bail reform. The central topic of the discussion was how the COVID emergency has impacted crime and law enforcement.

In addition to Worthy, the panel consisted of Chief Wayne Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny, Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Sgt. Kyla Williams of the DPD Domestic Violence Division, Rev. Louis Forsythe of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and Toson Knight, dean of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The roundtable was moderated by Bishop Darryl Harris, co-founder of Total Life Christian Ministries and faith-based coordinator for Operation Ceasefire, a joint initiative of the DPD and the US Attorney’s Office that offers gang members professional training and other opportunities.

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Worthy said domestic violence was among the most worrying trends it has seen during the pandemic.

“Our office typically handles 6,000 to 8,000 cases of domestic violence,” she said. “In 2019 it was 8,810. In 2020 it was over 10,000, and now, in the first week of March, we are on the right track to do more than that.

“We expected higher numbers,” said Worthy. “Victims are forced to stay at home with their abusers around the clock. They have children who cannot report abuse the normal way; they would normally report it to a school teacher.”

Wayne County’s court record is filled with more than a year worth of cases because of the pandemic, and while waiting, Worthy said 40% of domestic violence victims in cases handled by their office changed their minds and decided to do not cooperate with authorities.

“We haven’t had a trial in almost a year,” she said. “We have all of the previous year’s trials, all of the previous year’s cases, and we’re now at or near all-time highs for most crimes,” Worthy said.

“The defendants are playing the waiting game,” Worthy said. “They think that since the courts are not open they will pull it out and hope that they can wait for the victim.”

Harris said his ward and police helped another worshiper in their church who was dealing with domestic violence. He said the 9th district police responded to his call and arrested the perpetrator.

“This was a member of our church, and so our church could fold around them,” Harris said. “But think of so many others who don’t understand.”

The release of inmates at Wayne County Prison related to COVID was also discussed on Thursday. Kenny said he, Worthy and prison officials released 205 inmates from March 16 to September 16. 30, adding, “Only three were returned to prison for … they went out and committed other crimes. Those were non-violent crimes.”

But County Records, released in September for The Detroit News, show that five of the inmates who were released on COVID were charged with new crimes they allegedly committed after they were released from prison – including Tyler Cole , who was charged with felony sexual behavior after his release from prison after prosecutors said he detained three women on the knife date and assaulted them.

Craig criticized Kenny and Worthy for releasing inmates charged with sexual assault.

“I appreciate the direction we are going now in terms of compassionate publications … but when we talk about compassion, what about the victims?” Said Craig.

Worthy insisted that the only inmate released after being charged with criminal sexual assault was a 65-year-old man who was suffering from serious medical problems. The man, whose case was one of the 11,000 unsupervised rape sets found in a Detroit police room in 2009, was awaiting trial for first-degree sexual assault. He was released on April 2nd because of his advanced age and health problems.

According to records the county released to The News, three inmates convicted of sexual assault were also released as part of the COVID releases: Brandan Prather, who was released on April 24 after a fourth-degree conviction of criminal sex crimes became behavior; Jameel Bradley, released April 29 following his CSC 3 conviction; and Kaylin Drewery, who was released May 12 after being convicted of CSC 3.

Kenny said that because prison staff were cleverly able to stop the virus from spreading, COVID publications “have declined astronomically”.

The infection rate in prison was 0.2% two weeks ago – “In other words, you are more likely to catch COVID in Meijer than in prison,” said Kenny. “That has enabled us to take a much tougher stance on these emergency releases.”

The panel also discussed the reform of the deposit. Craig expressed concern that people he arrested for carrying hidden weapons would be released with little or no bail

“About 75% of those arrested while illegally wielding firearms (prosecutors) issue arrest warrants – but then it comes down to indictment and not attachment or low attachment, and these people are back in our community,” said Craig. “This doesn’t work … if we can’t get illegal weapons off the street, what do we do?”

Kenny said the question of bail reform is often misrepresented.

“Sometimes the catchphrase ‘no cash bail’ when featured in the media or on talk radio leads people to believe that someone charged with carjacking will not be bailed,” Kenny said.

Kenny said Wayne County Jail is full of poor, nonviolent criminals who would benefit from bail.

“In 2018, with the assistance of the Wayne County Sheriffs, we took a look at who was in jail,” said Kenny. “Interestingly, the number one offense that put people in Wayne County Jail was driving while their license was suspended. That means, in large part, if you’re poor, you will go to jail,” Kenny said.

“You shouldn’t be in jail for being poor; but by the same token, judges should certainly be able to bail … if a judge has reason to believe that the person won’t come back or poses a threat to the community, “said Kenny. “We’re trying to reach this happy medium.”

Washington, who had worked on the Detroit Police’s traffic details for years, said it didn’t have accurate statistics but said that most of the people in jail who drove on suspended driver’s license probably weren’t arrested in Detroit for he said , Detroit police often did not do this. Do not take license infringers into custody.

“I think these are more outside of the county than in the city,” Washington said. “After doing that in Detroit for 14 years … unless there was an arrest warrant attached and that person needed arrest, we in the city of Detroit were very sensitive about not putting poor people in jail unnecessarily.”

Harris said a discussion at a family reunion in 2019 found that 37 people in his family “are at risk and jail time because they have jobs and keep driving even though their licenses are not valid”.

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Dusty Kennedy