This story has been updated to remove out-of-date information about firework shortages.
First let me say Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. We have a lighter issue for you this time since I’m celebrating the holiday with my family and eating some good food.
With the Fourth of July creeping up, we want to remind you that fireworks are good and fun until you’re left without a thumb. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you pull out the lighter: You’re within your rights to spark up on private, not public, property. Do not try to relight a dud firework or one that malfunctioned. Never, ever, light a firework while under the influence.
Some news from over in Ann Arbor where, in an effort to build trust with people of color in the city, police will no longer pull over drivers for equipment violations — like a chipped windshield, a dead tail light or tinted windows . The interim chief of police announced the new policy just one day after the city council introduced an ordinance barring the practice, citing disparate outcomes of traffic stops for Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color. According to the Urban Institute, studies show that the trauma associated with traffic stops for Black people and people of color outweigh any potential safety benefits and do nothing to increase trust in police or people’s perceived sense of safety. Tell us, would you want to see Detroit police adopting a similar policy?
We also have more on how to breathe safely this summer and how Detroit stacks up on pedestrian safety.
Until next time,
P.S. Don’t forget to keep your phone down while you’re driving. From now on, anything but hands-free phone use while behind the wheel is against the law. (There are a few exceptions, including calling 911.)
add up these numbers
There are 500 wildfires burning in Canada as of yesterday according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Not all are burning out of control but those that are have been causing dangerous air quality all week. Learn more about the fires here, how to build a low cost air filter for your home here and prep for all kinds of air quality issues using this guide.
»in these streets
Zip through these safety stories
Men at work: The Michigan House has passed a bill allowing for the automatic issue of speeding tickets in construction zones. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor but would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to install cameras with speed detection devices and license plate readers in construction zones. Tickets for speeding would be sent through the mail. (BridgeDetroit)
Not enough: Parents say students with disabilities were physically abused by two classroom aides at the Detroit Public School’s Community District’s (DPSCD) Moses Field School and are preparing to file a lawsuit. DPSCD did fire the two aides involved after its own investigation. One of those people is facing criminal charges. Parents are alleging that officials attempted to cover up the incidents, should have reported them to state Child Protective Services and that officials should have removed the abusers from the school immediately. (Chalkbeat)
Fourth time’s a charm? U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell is attempting to increase firearm regulation (again) by involving the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Dingell introduced legislation that would remove an exemption for guns from the Consumer Product Safety Act. This would make the CPSC responsible for overseeing safety defects in firearms and issuing warnings and recalls. Dingell has introduced the legislation in four successive congresses. The National Rifle Association is against the legislation. (Freep, paywalled)
Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get the next Streetlight Detroit newsletter in your inbox:
Digging up dirt: The city is beginning remediation work at dozens of demolition sites after finding the city-hired firm, Den-Man Contractors, filled the sites with dirt containing high levels of arsenic and other toxic chemicals. A former Den-Man employee has been charged with crimes related to using contaminated backfill dirt but the city has not changed its safety procedures that would make this kind of event less likely in the future. (Michigan Radio, Outlier Media)
Scam alert: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning of a new scam threatening people with the seizure of cars, bank accounts and assets if they don’t pay back debt owed to the state’s unemployment insurance system. Don’t fall for it! If you’ve received one of these letters, you can call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection team at 517-335-7599. (WXYZ)
»Explained: Pedestrian deaths in the city
dig into the facts
Pedestrian deaths are on the rise nationally, but have decreased over the last few years in Michigan and Detroit, according to preliminary data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Any pedestrian killed by a car or truck while not in a vehicle themselves is considered a pedestrian death. Cyclist deaths are not considered pedestrian deaths. They’re recorded separately and those numbers don’t look good.
More than 7,500 pedestrians across the country were killed by vehicles in 2022. When the data is finalized, hundreds more are projected to be added to that total. This will be the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1981.
Last year there were 173 pedestrian deaths across the state, according to Melissa Marinoff, a traffic crash specialist for the Michigan State Police. The agency just released this data to the public in a comprehensive report. That number is just four fewer deaths than the year before. Of all the reasons for crashes that resulted in a death, the most frequent was people crossing the street somewhere other than a crosswalk. Not to victim-blame — crosswalks can be few and far between in Detroit and other cities, not to mention rural areas.
Crashes involving cyclists are up across the state when compared to 2020 and 2021. There were 1,340 of those crashes last year and 36 people died, most of whom were not wearing a helmet.
The majority of Wayne County’s pedestrian deaths last year —37 of 47 — were in Detroit, according to Marinoff. Detroit is a deadly place for pedestrians but is doing better compared to recent years, with 45 Detroit pedestrian deaths recorded in 2021 and 43 in 2020. This doesn’t count injuries, of course, and Detroiters and city officials are still planning on working aggressively to make streets safer for pedestrians with a Streets for People plan and $25 million from the federal government to improve conditions on the most dangerous stretches of roads.
keep an eye on Detroit’s police oversight body
The Detroit Police Department (DPD) has been testing the effectiveness of BolaWraps in crisis intervention situations. The device shoots a Kevlar cord that binds somebody’s arms or legs. The goal is to give responding officers an opportunity to apprehend and disarm a subject without lethal force. Assistant Chief Eric Ewing said at the June 22 Board of Police Commissioners meeting that these wraps aren’t appropriate to use in situations when individuals are armed with guns.
BolaWraps are only being deployed with the Detroit-Wayne Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) right now, which is vetting them before DPD considers a bulk order. The CIT is a collaboration between the Wayne County Sheriff, DPD and mental health care professionals with an aim of de-escalating police response to mental health crises.
Thursday’s BOPC meeting was supposed to feature a risk management report from DPD on officers deemed a risk to the department and others. That report and other agenda items were never heard, as the board lacked a quorum and ended the meeting after less than an hour, lacking enough commissioners present to legally conduct business.
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, Malak Silmi, Noah Kincade, Sarah Alvarez, Aaron Mondry and Koby Levin.