Jul 11, 2022 - News

Detroit Mercy plans police strategy

University of Detroit Mercy sign leading to the gated entrance to the campus.
The University of Detroit Mercy's McNichols campus. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

The University of Detroit Mercy is working to establish a private police force as part of a wider plan to address public safety around the Livernois-McNichols corridor.

Why it matters: Organizational leaders are attempting to put a dent in high crime rates, while centering residents' perspectives on what keeps them safe.

The latest: Detroit Mercy hopes it's nearing the end of a years-long process this fall to get its private college security guards certified as sworn officers, Antoine Garibaldi, who just retired as school president, tells Axios. More steps are needed before it's final.

  • Around 30 Detroit Mercy security staff, who were previously police officers, could get certified. They would have the power to make arrests in designated areas outside its campuses, including the main northwest Detroit one.
  • State legislation passed in 2016 allows this for private colleges.

What they're saying: Some reactions to additional police presence are mixed, I'Sha Schultz-Spradlin, president of nearby College Core Block Club, tells Axios.

  • "We don't really know how to minimize (violent crime) without a police presence, but police presence also means an additional form of violence" in the form of potential police brutality.

Between the lines: Detroit Mercy senior attorney Monica Barbour says the officers' focus would be on the campuses.

  • Geneva Williams, director of nearby nonprofit Live6 Alliance, says Detroit Mercy's officers wouldn't be acting "in isolation, nor was it ever conceived to be that way."

State of play: Live6 Alliance has been brainstorming public safety strategies for years with businesses and residents in surrounding neighborhoods. It's an evolving process with "many ingredients," Williams tells Axios.

  • It has been exploring various options ranging from police involvement, like with Detroit Mercy, to alternative deterrence methods like clearing out vacant lots, connecting residents to resources and supporting development along the commercial corridor.
The McNichols corridor is shown with a bike lane and buildings under construction.
Nonprofit Live6 Alliance's office and community center, HomeBase, and an under-construction business incubator along McNichols Road. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

Context: The public safety umbrella includes improving economic opportunities for residents. In that vein, community financing organization Invest Detroit is renovating a building next to Live6's office that the nonprofit will run as a small-business incubator. The city also made $7 million in street improvements.

What's next: Live6 Alliance plans to host in-person community conversations after holding virtual forums this spring.

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