Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mad Max Rock City
February 24, 2012 4:00 PM   Subscribe

The local rate of self-defense killings now stands 2,200 percent above the national average in Detroit.
posted by rageagainsttherobots (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
“We’re paramilitary, but we’re positive. I’m not a vigilante. I’m an agent of change.”

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of change that's probably going to help anyone (besides those who own the firms), especially those who can't afford private security.
posted by smirkette at 4:04 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the plus side, paramilitary-esque dudes using ruggedized iPads is probably preferable to ED 209s.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:08 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the neat things about the US is that each state can act like a little experimental zone. I wonder how closely police per capita budget is related to killing in self defense mathematically, city by city.

Penn Jillette famously argued that every woman in america should be issued a handgun.
posted by poe at 4:19 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There has been a real uptick in home invasions in Ann Arbor, Mi. This happened yesterday in Milan, which is near. I don't think the shooter will go unpunished in this instance.
posted by JohnR at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2012


Where else do the police come to your house after you’ve been robbed and ask you, ‘Why did you call us?"

Mexico.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sometimes it seems like Robocop was actually optimistic.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


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.”


what
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always thought that people feel emboldened commit crimes because they have no property or job standing to lose in court; basically, they have nothing invested in society. But that's just not true if you count their vital organs as property they can lose after a violent crime.
posted by Brian B. at 4:34 PM on February 24, 2012


My gut reaction was, "Yeah, protecting your own!" and then I read about the little witch hunts they run to get people who have already done the damage and left the property.

This is going to go tribal real fast and I think its time that the city had its police budget given back. Bailout Detroit the City, not Detroit that series of corporate entities.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:36 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


detroit emergency manager decision delayed for one month

the city is going to be broke in april, according to earlier news stories
posted by pyramid termite at 4:42 PM on February 24, 2012


Detroit: one moment it's Berlin, the next it's Medellín.
posted by acb at 4:46 PM on February 24, 2012


On a bleak day in January, a group of funeral directors wearied by the violence drove a motorcade of hearses through the city streets in protest.

Jesus.
posted by maudlin at 4:47 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, this is not the kind of change that's probably going to help anyone (besides those who own the firms), especially those who can't afford private security.

I spent half a year in Richmond, CA, which is a terrifically violent city. In my stay there, there were shootings every.single.weekend. Just off my block, there were drive-by shootings about every other week. One weekend, three cars were burned on the street across from mine. It was particularly bad on holiday weekends, when houses had a higher chance of being empty.

My street was patrolled by a paid security guard during the week, and the business next to my "apartment" was guarded by an armed guard with a visible weapon from Saturday morning thru Sunday night.

The entire street enjoyed the benefit of their protection. It's true that other streets didn't have the same protection, but it is definitely possible for entire city blocks to pool together and pay for someone to be visible like that. Made a difference on my block, though it doesn't stop ricocheting slugs (ask me how I know).

So glad to be out of that environment. But I have to admit - it made me want a shotgun, terribly.
posted by fake at 4:48 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Contrast this to Japan, where $78M in cash was returned to owners after the Tsunami.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:50 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Detroit: one moment it's Berlin, the next it's Medellín.

Detroit is just like Berlin, provided you pick the correct location within Berlin, and the correct year.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, you gotta lose your mind...
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm generally skeptical of the notion that personal firearms deter crime. But this may be a case where it might be more true than not. If police response times are as poor as alleged, thuggish folks have increased chances of successfully committing crime without being caught by the law. These same folks might have much greater reservations in other, better policed cities. An increase in self defense killings might make these opportunists rethink their chances of success.

Of course, this is not without cost. Law abiding residents start acting like vigilantes and city blocks may start feeling like they're mafia neighborhoods. The level of vigilance and suspicion takes a toll on civility.

I guess I can admire their determination. Though I can't imagine having such deep roots that I wouldn't just leave. I mean, if the violence is really that bad, why tempt fate? A firearm is a viable deterrent and means of self defense, but it isn't foolproof by any means.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:59 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


“We’re paramilitary, but we’re positive. I’m not a vigilante. I’m an agent of change.”

It is exactly this sort of rationalization that enables perfectly nice people to do horrible, horrible things. Frightening to see this articulated so blatantly.
posted by jnnla at 4:59 PM on February 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”

What the hell? I do understand the concept of self defense, really, I do, but this kind of sentiment? Actually saying, to a person who's standing there recording what you say, that you fully intend to kill someone? I'm literally speechless.

No, I don't own a gun, and no, I've never been mugged. I'd like to think that if I were ever in a situation where I needed a gun, my whole concept about owning it would be 'good lord, I hope I never need to use this' instead of 'I'm gonna get someone before they get me.'
posted by Ghidorah at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2012


Threat Management Group claims to "create conditions, which, by design, are not conducive to violence" and use "deterrence, detection, and defense to achieve non-violent outcomes."

In a marketplace of protection providers, that's a pretty good pitch. What are the local police saying back?

"You have to pay for us, so we'll get there when we get there."
posted by edguardo at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2012


Damn... am I still in the Imaginary Ron Paul Presidency thread?
posted by indubitable at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


On a very related note, I get a little upset whenever people say that "the police protect us."

The police ostensibly protect everyone's life and property equally, but do we have any illusions that this really happens? The poorest communities are policed most poorly.

We establish them as a public service because they are supposed to serve the public as a whole, but they hand out fines that are ruinous to the poor and pocket change for the rich.

They will come when called, but as the article says: "often the act has already taken place by the time the police are called."

That is not protection. That is security theater.

If companies spring up that can provide real protection at a price that even poor communities can afford, that's gonna be a whole lot better than what a lot of people get under the existing system.

The rich already buy their own security. The police don't cut it for them, why should we be surprised when the poor are dissatisfied as well?
posted by edguardo at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


An increase in self defense killings might make these opportunists rethink their chances of success.

And the result of that rethinking is that numbers are better than superior firepower. So, the criminals bring friends.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2012


I can't imagine having such deep roots that I wouldn't just leave. I mean, if the violence is really that bad, why tempt fate?

Moving is expensive. Moving to an entirely different city is incredibly expensive. I'd wager that many people in Detroit simply cannot afford to leave.

Having said that, if you can afford a private security firm you can probably afford to move to a safer city.
posted by asnider at 5:26 PM on February 24, 2012


This worked so well after Katrina in New Orleans, I'm sure it'll work in Detroit.
posted by narcoleptic at 5:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire street enjoyed the benefit of their protection. It's true that other streets didn't have the same protection, but it is definitely possible for entire city blocks to pool together and pay for someone to be visible like that.

I wonder they would call it if owners and residents multiple dwellings in one area got together and paid other people to police their area. It's a revolutionary idea.
posted by Renoroc at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the result of that rethinking is that numbers are better than superior firepower. So, the criminals bring friends.

I think that would put them out of the classification of opportunists. Opportunists exist because they can be reasonably sure the cops won't show up in a timely manner, possibly not at all.

Moving is expensive. Moving to an entirely different city is incredibly expensive.

Of course. But it's not more expensive than my life.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:38 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Contrast this to Japan, where $78M in cash was returned to owners after the Tsunami.

I think your link goes to the wrong place (an article about Mumbai suicides), but even so I don't think the comparison is a fair one. In one case, you have an analysis of justifiable homicide trends in a depressed, urban, midwestern American city with complex reasons for its struggles; in the other, you have an entire country that suffered a massive national tragedy resulting from a natural disaster. Apples, oranges.

People in depressed places tend to do depressing things. People who share grief tend to be nice to each other, for a little while at least. The people in Detroit are fundamentally no better or worse than the people in Japan; they have the same morals and ethics as everyone else and would react to tragedy in-kind. To imply otherwise is silly and unhelpful.

As someone who grew up and lives not far from Detroit, who has spent a fair amount of time there over the years (though I have never lived within the city limits), I think things there have taken a positive turn over the past few years. I spend more time there now than I ever did in the first half of my life, and a lot of the reason is because it has seemed cleaner, safer, and generally more attractive.

Most people are likely new to Detroit, have not been aware of the state of things over the years, and when the city finally receives the spotlight of their attention, they are shocked at what they see. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism, if you look in the right places (which is most places).
posted by tempestuoso at 5:42 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Damn... am I still in the Imaginary Ron Paul Presidency thread?

Nope, you're in one of the very real Two Party Oligarchy threads.
posted by codswallop at 5:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm cool with all American women carrying guns, poe, but America has vastly vastly too many police already. You don't require 30k cops for a city like NYC. It's possible Detroit's finest 3k are too thin on the ground, but that issue could be addressed more directly. Europe has established conclusively that more reasonable policing, rather than simply more policing, gets the job done.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


“We’re paramilitary, but we’re positive. I’m not a vigilante. I’m an agent of change.”

It is exactly this sort of rationalization that enables perfectly nice people to do horrible, horrible things. Frightening to see this articulated so blatantly.


I've actually always wondered what those initial moments of mass violence look like: what kind of rationalizations are people making? what kind of routes do people take to move into violence? I feel like this is showing me in stark detail.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 6:07 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to say this will end in mass violence.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 6:08 PM on February 24, 2012


I've actually always wondered what those initial moments of mass violence look like: what kind of rationalizations are people making?

Steven Pinker called it the Hobbesian Trap; the idea that others may pose a predatory threat to oneself, so one has to not only prepare to defend oneself but make it clear that one is not to be messed with. Pretty soon, it becomes apparent that anyone who backs down is hamburger, and the situation escalates until the merest spark can set it off.
posted by acb at 6:17 PM on February 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


My family lives in one of the neighborhoods patrolled by Threat Management. It's really unsettling. I came by to drop something off for my mother and two of their cars were parked at the end of the street, while five of them stood in the street, partially blocking her driveway. I pulled up and asked if something was wrong. They said, no, just keeping the neighborhood safe. They stayed there for like an hour. I can understand why the people there hired them but the whole paramilitary thing is very strange.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 6:17 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread probably needs a link to the "Detroit 300".
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 6:29 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Next in the news: home burglars begin sweeping the houses and immediately killing everyone, paramilitary-style, before making off with the goods.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:44 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where else do the police come to your house after you’ve been robbed and ask you, ‘Why did you call us?"

Mexico.


Or Philaddelphia.

In the fall of 2007, My wife and I had just moved to the City of Brotherly Love from Canada via Holland. We rented a beautiful home in Brewery town at Poplar and 29th.

It's famously said that Philadelphia is a "block to block" city. As in: "Will I get mugged walking home in North Philadephia?" "Well, that varies, block to block." 29th and Poplar is pretty much the definition of that. It's a picturesque street, young families and window gardens. But go one block north and suddenly it's all broken windows and pitbulls.

When we first moved in, our neighbour, an older black Jewish man named Radcliffe, came over and asked us if we were "hippies."

"No," I informed him. "We're Canadians."

"Okay good," he said. "You look like hippies though, so you'll probably be okay. But if those black boys give you trouble, you just come to me. I've got cameras up and down this block. I'm the Block Captain, you know."

Of course, I had no idea what a Block Captain was supposed to be, but I told Radcliffe we would be sure to come to him if we had any trouble. Later, I would end up helping him with his computer setup pretty regularly. His kitchen looked like a war room. Three TVs each switching back and forth between multiple closed circuit television feeds. A camera in his back yard, a camera on his third story balcony, cameras on the roofs of at least three houses on the block. I don't know how he managed his wiring.

We settled in and came to love that block. Got to know most of our neighbours, had them over for games of poker and whatnot. Come spring, we bought ourselves a couple of motorcycles. A guy a few houses down from us had a Harley that he just kept sitting in front of his house, not locked to nothing, so we figured we'd be fine. My wife's bike had a locking steering column, but mine didn't. So I bought myself a hefty steel chain and padlock at the local hardware store and locked my bike to the lamppost.

Barely a month later, I woke up one morning and it was gone, the padlock cut right through. I called the cops immediately. About an hour later they showed up, two guys in their twenties.

"Your motorcycle's gone?" they asked.

"Yes, I locked it up right there last night."

"You got theft insurance?"

"No."

"That's too bad. Was it a nice bike?"

"It was nice enough that I want it back."

"What did you lock it up with?"

I picked up the chain and busted lock. "This."

"Your not wearing gloves."

"So?"

"So, don't you watch CSI? How are we going to get prints?"

At the time, I wasn't entirely sure whether or not they were fucking with me, though in retrospect, there's little doubt. They took down the VIN, but told me quite frankly that there was little hope. "Be in a hundred pieces and sold for parts within 24 hours," they said.

I was pretty devastated. I sat on the stoop feeling sorry for myself until Radcliffe showed up in his black Jetta.

"Where's your bike?" he asked immediately. I told him the sad story and he immediately sprang into action. "Come inside! We need to review my tapes!"

There was nothing on the tapes. "Dammit," Radcliffe said. "I knew I should have moved one of those cameras to point at your bikes."

He opened up his neighbourhood list and started calling everyone on the block. After about ten phone calls, the old Polish lady who lived in the basement across the road and a few houses down said that she'd saw some young black man in a red hoodie looking the bike over real careful the night before.

"I knew it!" Radcliffe said. "It was those black boys from north of Gerrard! Let's go get your bike back. You can't go on your own cause they'd kill you, but you'll be okay with me."

So we climbed into Radcliffe's Jetta and started cruising slowly up and down the back alleys of North Philadelphia. I was skeptical and told him as much. But he wouldn't hear it. And then, about five blocks from home, there it was, tucked in behind a trailer in someone's overgrown backyard with the license plate folded in half.

"You're that's it?"

"That's my fucking bike, " I said. "Sorry."

"You got the key? Go, get it back. I'll keep watch."

So I ran over and, just like in a goddamned horror movie, the thing wouldn't start. Every time the engine turned over and backfired, I looked behind me expecting to see some thugs bearing down on me with handguns. After about three tries, I just hopped off, threw it in neutral and started pushing. I pushed that 300 pound bike two blocks at a dead run with Radcliffe rolling along behind me in the Jetta before finally hopping back on, bump starting it and riding home.

With Radcliffe's help I wrestled the bike up the four front steps and pushed it into the foyer until I could get some better locks. When I called the police back, I was contrite. I told the lady at the station that I had my motorcycle back and she said she's send the officers back around to take a statement.

They were impressed to see the bike in the foyer.

"Is it okay?" the one cop asked.

"Well," I said, "the ignition's obviously been messed with a lot, and they busted one of the fairings. But yeah, it's okay."

"So you stole it back, you said?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry. I mean, I know I shouldn't have. I just didn't know what else to do."

"Nah," the other cop said. "You did the right thing, dawg."
posted by 256 at 6:55 PM on February 24, 2012 [91 favorites]


Well whatever it is and whatever happens it will be an interesting case study in private security (there are various formulations, see Molinari, Machinery of Freedom(PDF), or more generally anarcho-capitalism. The entire structure and act of organizing and having competing private security firms always put me on edge. The state should certainly be put on alert though, if this works it will be removing an essential power from their purview.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2012


Smedleyman: "Where else do the police come to your house after you’ve been robbed and ask you, ‘Why did you call us?"

Mexico.
"

Actually, no. Not here in Mexico City, at least. I can't speak for the wild frontier, of course.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:25 PM on February 24, 2012


"I’m an agent of change."
Just like the Joker.

What the police do, or don't, doesn't concern me (as) much as long as people are able to cover each other and are pro-community doing it.
The courts, different story.
You can fix a government failure on an operational level. Change policing, technology, coordination, community contact, blah de blah, etc.
On the systemic level? Yeah, they can't just punch out and hang it on people to keep themselves honest. It's just a matter of time before things get tragic. No one's integrity is beyond temptation there Lord Acton.
It can be done, but you have to be willing to die. And if you're doing it to protect your family, sort of defeats it's own purpose if your death leaves them alone.

"So, don't you watch CSI? How are we going to get prints?"

You called the TV police? Well, there's your problem right there. Next time you call the TV police, go for one of those 70s rerun cops like Kojak or Starsky and Hutch. Those guys just kick ass and drive like bats out of hell. TV cops now have lasers and slow motion and angst. It's way too meditative and character driven for a robbery.

Protip: Do not call Baretta. Lot of monologing. And if you see Robert Urich, you've gone too far.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:41 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


256--great story--good on you and Radcliffe.

I can't fathom living under conditions like this. It's a war zone.

Here I can walk for miles after dark alone. I leave my back door unlocked always, and most of the time my front. Sometimes I forget and leave the keys in the ignition (although mostly I bring them inside so DH can find them on the key rack.) I leave the car unlocked downtown with coats and things in it. It doesn't bother me to talk to strangers.

Damn, this is the next best place to utopia.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:49 PM on February 24, 2012


"So you stole it back, you said?"
...
"Nah," the other cop said. "You did the right thing, dawg."


Requesting the MeFi D.A.s to speak up/chime in:

1) Is it technically possible to 'steal' back something that's already yours or is that just bad terminology usage?
2) Did 256's account of awesomeness expose him to any [realistic] legal risk?
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:31 PM on February 24, 2012


Oh, and awesome story, one for the grandkids. Maybe one day I'll find a post worthy of telling the story of when my dad stole a cop car and lived to tell the tale...
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:32 PM on February 24, 2012


Man, I remember how virulently pro-gun control I was when I was younger. That has changed and the past two weeks have been a tipping point. I've been nearly attacked by a homeless man, stalked outside my apartment, and there's been a shootout directly in front of my front porch. I understand how the people buying guns feel.
posted by schroedinger at 9:34 PM on February 24, 2012


Oh yeah, and I called the police directly after the shootout happened and it took them thirty minutes to show up. That was cool.
posted by schroedinger at 9:35 PM on February 24, 2012


Most of the people buying guns for personal defense actually live in places where the doors are left unlocked. But they are certain they need to be prepared.

Some secretly hope they get to shoot someone in self defense, just like they secretly hoped that Y2K would cause enough commotion that their preparations would be proved right.

Of course, most of those self defense incidents are nothing like what anyone involved imagined.
posted by dglynn at 10:01 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the real meaning of Smaller Government
posted by lalochezia at 10:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Detroit seems like a strange place to keep the national average.
posted by srboisvert at 12:49 AM on February 25, 2012


Is it technically possible to 'steal' back something that's already yours or is that just bad terminology usage?

Bad terminology, unless there's something weird about the law there. The legal definition of theft requires that by taking the object you are depriving the person with rightful possession of the property or its use. In this case the thieves did not have rightful possession; ergo it was not theft.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:49 AM on February 25, 2012


Am I the only one who thinks that we may be blowing this out of proportion? The percentage numbers are pretty impressive. The actual numbers... not so much. The "justifiable homicide" numbers went up 79%, true, but... the actual number went from nineteen to thirty-four.

If the number goes up again next year, and the year after that, yeah, maybe. But numbers like these bounce around, and when n is so small, it's easy to get carried away by what might be a fluke or just background noise.
posted by valkyryn at 4:15 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


am I still in the Imaginary Ron Paul Presidency thread?

No. Because here citizens are actual agents of change.

Perhaps someone will bring up how historically there were not police forces - the 'hunting down offenders' part ties back to that history.

Nice to see things like - the actual number went from nineteen to thirty-four - actual numbers VS %ages.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:02 AM on February 25, 2012


1) Is it technically possible to 'steal' back something that's already yours or is that just bad terminology usage?
2) Did 256's account of awesomeness expose him to any [realistic] legal risk?

1) stealing requires depriving someone of their property.
2) There are two issues here. Firstly, he may have committed a trespass (I'm not aware if MI law counts unenclosed spaces as actionable for trespass or not). This would be de minimis in any case. There's also a potential charge of theft. Were the person who possessed the item to claim this, they would be required to demonstrate superior title (rightful possession). They (according to 256 - maybe he just stole a same model bike ;)) can't do that, so no.
posted by jaduncan at 6:21 AM on February 25, 2012


Serious question, since I've been thinking about it:

Is there anywhere in the world where the police work as designed, and protect everyone, equally and effectively, from violence and theft?

Because my experience in the United States, in both rural and urban areas, is that the police come after crimes have happened to pick up the pieces and take statements. The protection was needed earlier.

The only time I've seen them already on-site as a deterrent are for business events, festivals, parades, concerts, and the like. Places where lots of money or reputation stand to be lost if shit gets rowdy.

Sure, they patrol around neighborhoods all the time, but your chances of getting mugged while a cop is driving by are obviously low enough that it still happens.

In my neighborhood in the past few months, a woman was raped on the street a block from my house, a guy was shot by a mugger a couple blocks from my house. I feel like I see police cars driving around pretty often, but it obviously wasn't often enough for those two.

So, seriously, do the police really work anywhere to protect people?
posted by edguardo at 6:23 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Sarnia, Ontario, so I watched a lot of Detroit television in the '80s. When the 6:00 news would come on it seemed like almost every broadcast kicked off with a reporter standing in front of a house with yellow tape around it. That things have gotten even worse since then is profoundly depressing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:00 AM on February 25, 2012


One of the things that impacts policing in Detroit is that the city itself was designed for a lot more people, so the relative density is pretty low, which means that it's harder to respond and takes more police to cover the same number of people than it would in a denser city.

That all said, I totally understand buying a gun in Detroit and learning how to use it responsibly. I'm not sure I would, but I totally get it.
posted by klangklangston at 7:59 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shit I'm glad I didn't get that job in Detroit.
posted by fuq at 9:19 AM on February 25, 2012


edguardo: "Is there anywhere in the world where the police work as designed, and protect everyone, equally and effectively, from violence and theft?"
The police is designed for law enforcement, not prevention.
posted by brokkr at 2:03 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Shit I'm glad I didn't get that job in Detroit."

If you've got a job, there are plenty of parts of Detroit that are relatively safe, cheap and cool. It's a variegated city.
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 PM on February 25, 2012


Moving is expensive. Moving to an entirely different city is incredibly expensive.

Of course. But it's not more expensive than my life.


This is something that is easy to say, but try moving to another city when you can barely afford groceries. Even if you scrape up enough for a bus ticket and don't bother to pay the expense of moving any of your worldly possessions, what do you do when you arrive in a new city with no money and nowhere to live?

Sure, you got out of Detroit alive, but now you're homeless in Ann Arbor. I'm not sure that you've really improved your situation.
posted by asnider at 9:56 PM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The police is designed for law enforcement, not prevention.

Yeah, this.
And another reason why the 2nd amendment is so important.

Consider the trade off if you could design a police department for proactive deterrence.
It would probably be something like Pre-Crime.
Though we do see similar (but non-psychic) things as profiling, surveillance, etc.

In an earlier thread on surveillance of Muslim student organizations you can see how some people felt really uncomfortable with environmental and anomie and differential association sorts of police investigation.

And rightly so. Is having a cop monitoring your street with a camera or investigating (potential) deviation patterns in your neighbors worth protecting your stuff?

Then we up the ante - is intrusive surveillance worth preventing a murder or two?

And up further - is it worth preventing mass murder or terrorism?

And so on. Prevention efforts seem to get more intense in relation to the publicity and/or extremity of the crime.
Some junkie getting killed in an ally, no one sees, cares much about (clinically speaking).
A big star or politician getting blown away live on t.v. would really mess up people's perception of their own safety (whatever that safety level actually is).

Obvious stuff I'm saying there, I know.

But it relates to that point in that the question of prevention carries with it and the assumptions that there can be some sort of mutual exclusivity between intrusion and prevention.

Look at what a parent is allowed to do. Or a "big brother." You follow your kid to make sure they're ok, or look after you baby sister, you're a good parent/sibling.
You follow someone around you're not related to or constantly 'protect' some girl from boys, you're a nutso stalker.

Same thing for police. Stand on the corner and talk to people, you're officer friendly. Stand in someone's house and talk to them, you're the gestapo.

That's without addressing the ruling that says police aren't constrained by law to protect you.
Sounds sort of elitist. And perhaps it is. But the flip side is - what if the police were constrained by law to protect you? They could force a test of that law and suddenly everything has to get weighed against whether sitting under your bed with a microphone, say, is ok, because hey, they have to by law protect you.

It's a tough balance.
And too people always forget the up side of cooperating with and keeping in contact as a community with the police department is that - they know who you are, yes, - but you know who they are.
If officers "Joe" and "Rich" know you as "Jim" and know your kids, you get a sort of Scout from "To Kill A Mockingbird" thing. "Hello Officer Joe. We liked the potato salad your wife made for the picnic last week. Did you get to eat any of the chocolate chip cookies I made for when we went bowling? Say... why do have your baton raised to club my dad?"

The only people that really want to hide and insulate themselves or engage in duplicity are criminals, whether they wear badges or bandannas.

So in most cases, as near-fanatically pro-gun as I am, I think cameras would be more effective in the hands of private citizens. Media exposure. Communication.
A firearm can kill a person or people.
Public exposure can change the environment.

And that's really what you want if you genuinely want to protect your kids and have good schools, all that.
I mean, you might actually need to shoot someone as a short term thing. Someone busts in your house or tries to jack your car, it's tough to publicly shame them or make them flee in fear from being found out.
But if they're just focused on the guns then they're only looking for an excuse to get payback or play hard ass. Not accomplishing the goal.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you've got a job, there are plenty of parts of Detroit that are relatively safe, cheap and cool. It's a variegated city.

Ok, fair enough if one can get a job that pays well enough. I wouldn't exactly be entering a lucrative field with an advanced degree at that particular time. Technology coordinator for a socially progressive conference. At the same time, I always wonder what if.

What if I became an awesome Detroit vigilante? Too bad whips are impractical weapons.
posted by fuq at 4:17 PM on February 26, 2012


No, honestly, Detroit is pretty cheap, and "technology coordinator" sounds decent. If you an do 35k alone, you can live like an outlaw prince in Detroit (or Hamtramck at least).
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 PM on February 26, 2012


« Older KLM introduces Meet & Seat. Choose your seat-m...  |  Photographs of Paperclips... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments