Streetlight Detroit in upper case letters. The letter "i" in both words is replaced by a streetlight post which shines a blue light onto the words

Hey there, 

Welcome to Streetlight Detroit, our newsletter that takes a deeper look at safety, justice and policing in Detroit. 

Streetlight will lean away from the old journalism adage of “if it bleeds, it leads,” and instead, pave the way for news that asks some of the questions that matter most to Detroiters. We don’t want to highlight crime and tragedy without offering the necessary context and tools to create a safer city. We’ll help hold leaders accountable for creating and operating systems that will put people’s safety and well-being first. 

Whether it’s blocked crosswalks in your neighborhood, pollution or police surveillance, if it matters to you, we’re on it.

Who’s behind this thing? You’ll see some familiar names in each edition, as some of the city’s most determined reporters and editors are working together to craft this newsletter for you: BridgeDetroit, Chalkbeat Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Metro Times, Michigan Radio, Planet Detroit, WDET 101.9 FM, WXYZ-TV and Outlier Media/Detroit Documenters. 

Even more important is how the project came about. Detroit Documenter Alex Klaus wanted to see more information and accountability on safety and policing in particular. She brought the idea of a newsletter to all of us. You’ll see more from her in later issues.

We’re excited to see where Streetlight Detroit will shine. Let me know if there’s something you want us to look into. Right off the bat, I’m curious to know what kind of safety news — not just crime stories — you seek out and where you find it. Reach me at My inbox is always open. 

All the best (and none of the worst),

Miriam Marini

Reporter, Outlier Media and the Detroit Free Press

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» the count

add up these numbers

The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) is asking the state to fund a $227 million plan to meet increased demand for mental health services in metro Detroit. The plan would add a combined 450 beds to a crisis center, residential housing and psychiatric facilities in Detroit. 

» illuminate

go behind the stories that made headlines

Detroit police officers shot and killed Porter Burks within minutes of locating him on a neighborhood street on Oct. 2, 2022, while he was having a mental health emergency. Photo credit: Detroit Police Department via Facebook

It’s been seven months since 20-year-old Porter Burks was killed by Detroit police officers.

Burks had schizophrenia, and his family called the police because he was having a mental health emergency and had a 3.5-inch knife in his hand. His death sparked debate on the efficacy of the department’s crisis intervention training. However, the five police officers who shot at Burks did not face criminal charges. 

How does one remain safe in a crisis when an emergency response can end with fatal violence? 

Michigan Radio reporter Beenish Ahmed asked three experts to analyze police body cam footage and the officers’ response. The analysis sheds light on the intersection of law enforcement training and crisis intervention training, and whether the two conflict during an emergency.

We discussed the analysis and its findings with Ahmed. 

» in these streets

speed through key safety news

Need to catch up? Mayor Mike Duggan hopes taking guns from people who can’t legally possess them because they’re on probation or parole will cause a decrease in gun violence. The veterans living in the Piquette Square Apartments in Midtown are made to deal with unsafe living conditions. Detroit City Council is looking into unlicensed businesses and the legality of locking patrons inside a business in the wake of a fatal shooting at a westside gas station, and ShotSpotter contracts will stand. Stellantis’ Mack Complex racked up its 8th environmental violation in less than two years. Parents should ensure kids are up to date on their vaccinations amid bacterial infections in Detroit schools. And it’s time to get ready for tick season again. (BridgeDetroit, Michigan Radio, WDET, Detroit Documenters, Detroit Free Press, Planet Detroit, Chalkbeat Detroit, WXYZ-TV)

And keep following… 

“No beef zone”: Expect to see extra cops and cameras downtown this summer. Detroit police say they’re clamping down after a series of shootings in mid-April. In addition to more aggressive law enforcement, a coalition of officials and pastors say they’re working to prevent violence through prisoner reentry programs and other community initiatives. (BridgeDetroit, Detroit Free Press)

The fast lane for DDOT: The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) is looking to update the city’s bus routes and released a draft plan outlining its agenda. The biggest change would be the frequency of buses, with rapid transit routes along the six corridors with the highest usage coming every 7.5 to 10 minutes. (BridgeDetroit, City of Detroit)

Rightside up at last: When the QLine was built in 2016, Braille signage at stops was placed upside down — on purpose. M-1 Rail, the nonprofit that runs the QLine, plans to replace them after hearing from local, vision-impaired activists that the inverted signs are confusing. (Metro Times)

Call HR: After Detroit Police Department officer Kairy Roberts sucker-punched a civilian in Greektown (pre “no beef zone” designation), lied to the department about the incident, resigned, and got the city sued, the City of Eastpointe hired Roberts after doing a “very thorough” background check. He’s still on the force there. Eastpointe’s mayor and city manager have not returned WXYZ-TV’s calls, but now the state is getting involved. (WXYZ-TV)

» BOPC watch

keep an eye on Detroit’s police oversight body

Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners meetings feature equal parts drama and confusion. Oversight can fall between the cracks. In recent months, we’ve watched as commissioners failed to discipline officers charged with multiple felonies and promoted an officer repeatedly accused of domestic violence.

The pattern might be repeating itself with the hotly contested topic of police surveillance technology. The board invited Detroit Police Deputy Chief Franklin Hayes to take questions and build a case for the department’s $5 million purchase of new license plate recognition cameras

Gabrielle Dresner, a policy strategist for the ACLU of Michigan used her two minutes of public comment earlier this month to say the Specification Report on the technology was flawed and that it incorrectly claimed the technology had no civil liberties implications. 

Last night, the BOPC voted to approve the report. (It was unclear at the time of publication which of the board’s proposed edits were adopted.) Because of the Community Input Over Government Surveillance ordinance, Detroiters will have 14 days to review the report before the City Council votes on the contract. (WDET, WXYZ-TV, Detroit Documenters, NPR, BridgeDetroit, ACLU of Michigan, City of Detroit)

» sound off

share your thoughts

Even when there’s not much of a threat to our safety, news about crime attracts attention and keys emotions high. It causes most of us to overestimate how much crime is around us and feel less safe than we actually are. Those perceptions have an impact on how we feel, vote, and act. 

Reporters in Philadelphia traced the beginnings of sensationalized and skewed crime reporting to two local stations in the late 1960s. Law school professors at Stanford, Duke and the University of Chicago looked at 11 million Facebook posts by police departments and found that these posts over-represented Black suspects by 138%

How does the news you see, hear and read make you feel about crime and about Detroit? What about Facebook pages like Crime in the D? We’ve tried to get in touch with the administrators of that anonymous page without success. Know something about it or have thoughts about it? Email or hit reply and let us know.

» on guard

get to know the people who keep us safe

The Detroit Documenters take notes at government meetings, but they are also helping keep young people accused of wrongdoing safer by covering six juvenile court hearings over the last few months. The hearings have added to ongoing coverage from Free Press reporters Christine MacDonald and Gina Kaufman revealing issues at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility — from overcrowding and slow medical care to questions about adequate legal representation and mentoring for detained youths. Documenters will continue to intermittently monitor decisions made in juvenile court proceedings.

» healing & helping

give and receive care with these upcoming opportunities

A new Healing Hub has opened to help youth deal with trauma — together. More of that? Head over to 27th Letter Books on May 28 for an open mic about love, peace and unity. Maintaining friendships is really good for you, so how about grabbing a pal and doing a walking meditation on the riverfront Saturday at Gabriel Richard Park (free but sign up).

Who and what would you like to see profiled in Streetlight? Email me to share your wishlist or nominations.

Thank you for joining us for our debut edition. There’s lots more to come. I’m excited to hear your feedback and thoughts, hit my inbox at

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 Lynelle Herndon, Malak Silmi, Noah Kincade, Sarah Alvarez, Koby Levin, Aaron Mondry and Erin Perry.

Miriam (she/her) is a strong believer that journalism should hold leaders accountable and serve as a platform for marginalized groups. She can often be found at The Congregation — usually with a hot mocha in hand and finding an outlet to charge her dying laptop.