Interim Detroit Police Chief James White is launching a two-day crime-fighting initiative dubbed "Operation Restore Order" in response to a surge of violence that has seen five kids shot, two of them killed, within the span of a week.
The enforcement effort shares a name with a controversial series of raids undertaken by former police Chief James Craig in 2014, shortly after he took over the department. The first iteration of Operation Restore Order targeted areas where police had received significant complaints and was aimed at sending a message to criminals, but sparked accusations of "stop-and-frisk" style policing.
During a news conference Thursday, White said the effort is constitutional, adding that officers are operating on "information on people wanted in the area, people on parole or probation, people who've violated parole and probation, and those known to carry illegal weapons."
The first day of the revived enforcement effort, conducted on the city's west side, yielded:
- 20 felony arrests
- 8 misdemeanor arrests
- 410 ordinance violations
- 11 firearms confiscated
- 21 vehicles impounded
- 3 search warrants executed
- 314 people investigated
- A varierty of drugs, with fewer than 40 grams per substance
- $36,000 cash
Police were to focus on the east side Thursday.
"We are unapologetic about keeping our community safe," said White. "This is not stop-and-frisk, this is about getting violent felons off the street."
However, of the 28 people arrested, he mentioned just two wanted on violent crimes. One was suspected in a homicide and the other a carjacking.
"These are the felons that shot and killed two people that got engaged.. this is about little Bryson on the freeway," he said, referencing a 2-year-old shot and killed last week.
White recently returned to Detroit police as interim chief after leading the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. He's a veteran of the DPD and oversaw its consent judgment with the federal government for 11 years.
The first iteration of Operation Restore Order yielded limited successful prosecutions, Metro Times reported in 2015, even though more than 1,000 people were arrested. Detroit police officials, however, hailed it a success and still stand by it, in part because they say it led to the arrest of 18 homicide suspects and moved crime away from targeted sites. But the reaction from people living at the raid locations was mixed, with some at the Colony Arms Apartments on Jefferson saying they were inappropriately targeted and that crime persisted after police left.
As White did Thursday, officials at the time said they were going after suspected violent offenders, but 21 of 30 arrests made at Colony Arms were for outstanding traffic tickets, Metro Times found. Vice, in a story headlined "Detroit's New Policing Strategy Is Stop-And-Frisk on a Massive Scale," meanwhile reported the sweep included a woman who was 8 months pregnant and had merely missed court for a marijuana possession charge in Macomb County. She reportedly required medical attention upon release.
At least 17 such raids were conducted before Detroit police quietly did away with the effort. White helped carry it out as Craig's assistant chief.
Craig left the department at the beginning of the month to plan a possible run for governor as a Republican.
It's the second time in two weeks that White has launched a major crime-fighting effort. On June 10, he vowed to crack down on Detroit's "party atmosphere" — think drag racing, Greektown brawls — with added patrols in hotspots on weekends.