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University of Detroit Mercy plans police strategy

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

Why is this important: Organizational leaders attempt to reduce high crime rates, while centering residents’ perspectives on what keeps them safe.

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

  • About 30 Detroit Mercy security personnel who were previously police officers could be certified. They would have the power to make arrests in designated areas outside of its campuses, including Detroit’s main northwest.
  • State legislation past in 2016 allows this for private colleges.

What they say : Some reactions to an additional police presence are mixed, I’Sha Schultz-Spradlin, president of the nearby College Core Block Club, told Axios.

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

Between the lines: Detroit Mercy’s lead attorney, Monica Barbour, said officers will focus on campuses.

  • Geneva Williams, director of neighboring nonprofit Live6 Alliance, said Detroit Mercy officers would not act “in isolation, and it was never meant to be that way.”

State of play: Live6 Alliance has been thinking about public safety strategies for years with businesses and residents in surrounding neighborhoods. It’s an evolutionary process with “many ingredients,” Williams tells Axios.

  • He explored various options ranging from police involvement, as with Detroit Mercy, to alternative deterrence methods like clearing vacant lots, connecting residents resources and support the development along the trade corridor.
The office and community center of the nonprofit Live6 Alliance, HomeBase, and a business incubator under construction along McNichols Road. Photo: Annalize Frank/Axios

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

And after: Live6 Alliance plans to host in-person community conversations after holding virtual forums this spring.