I’m back, and there’s so, so, so much to catch up on, from a massive strike by the United Auto Workers to a mysterious building collapse at Eastern Market and a Texas Roadhouse meat cutting competition (which is nowhere near my reporting jurisdiction, but cool enough to warrant a mention). This edition of Streetlight features new tech for the Detroit police force, the 411 on facial recognition and Narcan vending machines.
We’re keeping our eyes on hearings that began this week in Lansing by the state Legislature’s House and Senate committees on legal representation for juveniles facing delinquency charges. The hearings are part of an extensive overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system, which includes creating a juvenile public defense system to ensure youths have the same rights to defense as adults, regardless of their ability to pay.
On a different note, a pilot program is set to kick off at the beginning of October for restaurants to voluntarily display their health inspection report status. Restaurants that opt in to receive an inspection by the city’s health department and pass will receive a green placard to display. Can you think of any Detroit restaurants that are due for an inspection? What are your predictions for spots that will earn the green placard?
As always, my inbox is open for your thoughts and input: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think happy thoughts (that’s a demand, not a suggestion),
add up these numbers
In Detroit, violent crimes were reduced by 5.5% between June 1 and Aug. 31 citywide, continuing an overall decline in violent crimes since 2021. Law enforcement officials kicked off special enforcement programs during the summer to curb crime rates, specifically in the city’s 8th and 9th precincts, which saw 19% and 11% reductions in violent crimes, respectively.
»Explained: Facial recognition use in Detroit
dig into the facts
There have been six known cases of individuals being falsely arrested based on the use of facial recognition technology in the United States — all of them were Black, half were arrested here in Detroit.
Facial recognition is employed during active criminal investigations to aid law enforcement in identifying a suspect. The software used by the Detroit Police Department, DataWorks Plus, is used to search through images to match physical features with the images produced during the investigation, according to DPD’s most recent facial recognition policy. If a match is found using this technology, it is intended to be used as a lead that requires further examination by investigators. Department policy requires all facial recognition inquiries to be corroborated by at least two investigators and one supervisor.
»in these streets
speed through key safety news
SOS call: The main hotline for people experiencing homelessness in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park — 313-305-0311 — is receiving a much-needed revamp. The hotline’s new manager, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, has extended hours and plans to launch in-person services starting in November. The hotline — and the system behind it, called the Coordinated Assessment Model — received sharp criticism for long wait times and insufficient operating hours, with some people saying they waited hours on the phone only to learn local shelters were full. The call service also combined with the Detroit Housing Resource HelpLine to help streamline housing resources and emergency shelter. (BridgeDetroit, CAM Detroit, Detroit Free Press, City of Detroit)
Poison control: A statewide two-bill package requiring doctors to screen young children for lead poisoning passed the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Children will be required to undergo testing once they turn one and two years old, and testing can last until age six. Detroit’s lead situation is a persistent problem, with Detroit children testing positive for lead at triple the state’s rate. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can impair learning, behavior and hearing, potentially leading to developmental issues in children. Early detection is key in reversing the effects of lead poisoning, as no amount of lead in the blood is safe. (Michigan Radio, Planet Detroit)
Yes, we Narcan: A growing number of pharmacies in the Detroit area are selling the overdose reversal drug Narcan over the counter. Federal officials approved the sale of the drug without a prescription in March, but it took a while for supplies to catch up. Free doses of Narcan, which temporarily halts opioid overdoses, are also available through a network of vending machines across the state, including one on the Wayne State University campus. (BridgeDetroit, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)
Safety measure for survivors: Michiganders who have survived domestic violence or sexual assault and fear they are in danger at home now have the option of moving to a new location and obtaining a confidential — but official — address from the state. The address can be used in state court documents, to vote for school, and in dealings with any other state or local (but not federal) agencies. The objective is to keep survivors’ new location safe from assailants. Michigan lawmakers created the program in 2020, following the lead of more than 40 other states, but it took two years to figure out how to securely integrate feigned addresses into the voting system. Those in need of establishing such an address must be planning to move and are 18, free from parental control by court order, or a parent or guardian acting on behalf of someone at risk. To sign up, go to mi.gov/agacp, email email@example.com, or call 313-456-0190. (Detroit Free Press, State of Michigan)
Aborting abortion restrictions: Almost all abortions in Michigan must be paid for out of pocket — between $500 to $700 for a medication abortion to more than $1,000 for a surgical abortion. According to state data, over 97% of the more than 27,000 Michigan residents who had an abortion last year paid out of pocket, and less than 3% used insurance to cover the cost. Democratic lawmakers introduced a package of bills removing a number of restrictions on abortion in Michigan, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period. The bills also aim to allow Medicaid and private insurers to cover the cost of elective abortions. (Michigan Radio, State of Michigan)
Catch up on UAW strike: The clock is ticking as a new deadline looms for auto executives and United Auto Workers leaders to reach a new labor agreement. The strike is set to expand to include more Big Three plants if negotiations aren’t settled by noon today. Currently, nearly 13,000 workers are on strike as production is at a standstill at three plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. As of Wednesday, Stellantis has delivered a new proposal that is under review, according to the Detroit Free Press. Reuters reports that Stellantis joined General Motors (GM) and Ford in furloughing some employees at other factories due to ripple effects of the strikes, including parts shortages and storage constraints. Layoffs have begun to hit non-striking workers at GM and Stellantis, with leaders pointing at the interconnectedness of the production process — highlighting the impact of the union’s unusual strike strategy that’s keeping auto execs guessing. On the brink of the strike, manufacturers took precautionary measures to stave off the effects of the likely strike, but wrong predictions led to big consequences. Want to dive deeper? Jump into the monumental difference between UAW workers’ pay and CEO compensation. (Freep, Reuters, Michigan Radio, NPR, The Intercept)
Impacted by the strike? Here’s the skinny on strike pay and a guide to unemployment benefits. Looking for work while on strike? An upcoming career expo is seeking skilled UAW workers temporarily out of work.
Inspect new safety tech
The Detroit Police Department (DPD) will upgrade body cameras to automatically begin recording when police officers remove their firearm from its holster. With the new technology, a sensor sends a signal to the body camera when the gun is removed. The upgrades come after a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to upgrade the city’s body camera program, including data storage capacity.
Many police departments across the country have opted in to use similar technology: Sacramento police’s Axon Signal Sidearm uses a magnet to detect when the firearm has been removed. In Oakland, California, the police force uses the same sensors in patrol cars, which activate when police turn on emergency lights or open vehicle doors. The mechanism details of the technology to be used in Detroit is unclear. DPD did not respond to Outlier Media’s inquiry on Thursday about the department’s body camera program. (BridgeDetroit, City of Detroit, ABC10, Oaklandside)
keep an eye on Detroit’s police oversight body
At this week’s police commissioners meeting, we’re eyeing a few personnel concerns, including one investigator at the frequently unstable Office of the Chief Investigator who is being reviewed for probation. On the force, two officers are up for administrative leave with no pay (but medical benefits remain).
Major thanks to Detroit Documenter Gabriel Gamlin for keeping us informed on last week’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, where officials revisited an issue concerning a fatal shooting from August that left a man dead after Detroit police responded to a mental health distress call. Keep up with Detroit Documenters’ weekly coverage of the BOPC.
Correction: The last edition of Streetlight has been updated to correct that Commissioner Willie Burton — not Commissioner Willie Bell — abstained from voting on police promotions at the Aug. 31 Board of Police Commissioners meeting.
This project is brought to you by BridgeDetroit, Chalkbeat Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Metro Times, Michigan Radio, Planet Detroit, WDET 101.9 FM, WXYZ-TV and Outlier Media/Detroit Documenters.
This edition was written by Outlier Media’s Miriam Marini, SaMya Overall, Koby Levin, and Detroit Documenters’ Alex Klaus.