Tag Archives: detroit

Detroit’s Project 14

From detnews.com

Officers may buy a residence for $1,000, get up to $150,000 in federal rehab grants

Leonard N. Fleming / The Detroit News

Detroit —Mayor Dave Bing says he’s so serious about wanting to make Detroit more attractive, livable and safe, he’s practically giving away homes to lure police officers back to the city.

Bing unveiled an unprecedented plan Monday to offer 200 tax-foreclosed homes in the East English Village and Boston-Edison neighborhoods to officers. The plan calls for officers to pay up to $1,000 for the homes while receiving as much as $150,000 apiece in grants to rehabilitate them.

Backed by federal funds, the “Project 14” plan could be a model for the nation, Bing said. The proposal’s name refers to police code for “back to normal.”

“Detroiters want to live in safe, stable neighborhoods, and they deserve no less,” Bing said. “This is just step one of many things that we think we’re going to have to involve ourselves in as we bring our city back.”

The project appeals to Detroit Police Officer William Booker-Riggs, who left the city nine months ago with his 11-year-old daughter for Southfield and wasn’t intent on moving back until the mayor announced the plan.

Now the 37-year-old single father said he’s eyeing everything from “three-bedroom bungalows to mini-mansions.” His daughter has already “asked for three bedrooms for herself.”

“I’m very excited,” Booker-Riggs said at a news conference Monday in City Hall as Bing unveiled the plan.

“It was more so the mayor’s vision to bring the city back. It was a vision of his staff, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

Bing was flanked by police brass and uniformed officers as he outlined the plan. Bing said officers “living in neighborhoods have the potential to deter crime, increase public safety and improve relations between the community and our sworn officers.”

Bing is using $30 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Funds for the program that intends to cut crime and stabilize a city that has lost half its population since it peaked at 1.8 million in 1950. The city plans to release a list of the available homes Friday, and Bing said the plan won’t cost city taxpayers anything.

It follows a decade of abandonment by police officers since the state Legislature banned residency laws requiring officers to live in cities that employ them. At least 53 percent of Detroit’s 3,000 police officers live in the suburbs, and Bing said the percentage is higher for firefighters.

The program is centered on the two neighborhoods, but the city also could offer houses in others, city officials said. The program could eventually expand to include firefighters and provide financial relief to officers who remain in the city once more federal funds are secured, city officials said.

Bing said Boston-Edison and East English Village were chosen because of their stability, high-performing schools, variety of churches, open space and recreation centers.

‘The right direction’

The program is encouraging to Trallis Bailey, 54, who lives on Atkinson Street in Boston-Edison near at least six vacant homes.

But he said it needs to start soon because thieves are stripping the boarded-up houses “and there’s not going to be anything to move those police in.”

“It’s a start in the right direction,” said Bailey, whose sister is a police officer who lives in the city. “I think it will help the quality of life.”

William Barlage, the president of the East English Village Neighborhood Association, said residents “are all very excited about the potential” of police officers moving into the neighborhood with an active block club, street watch, good schools and private security patrol.

“For our area, it’s nice to have a police officer on the block,” said Barlage, who added that 5 percent to 7 percent of the neighborhood’s 2,100 homes are abandoned. “You’ll deter a lot of crime and everything else if you have people on the block in terms of houses being filled again.”

The city is partnering with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State Housing and Urban Development Authority, the Michigan Housing Trust and other private interests. The program includes safeguards that would require police to repay money for the house if they sell it to someone other than a police officer.

Bing said one major benefit is job creation because of the rehabilitation needs of the homes. The officers also will be able to pick out the carpet and cabinets and receive new appliances, administration officials said.

Specifics were not released, including how many officers have expressed interest or the names of other neighborhoods being considered for the plan.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee, who along with the majority of the command staff lives in the city, predicted the program would be a success.

Success expected

“Our residents have told us loud and clear about the challenges that their neighborhoods face as more homes have become vacant and abandoned, threatening the stability and safety of our community,” Godbee said. “What we’re looking for is moving back to some normalcy in police-community relations.”

Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said he “applauds the mayor’s vision” and believes the program is a “step in the right direction” to turning around Detroit.

“I support anything that can be used as a way to get people to come back to the city,” Cockrel said. “I do think that we can’t lose sight of the fact that the ultimate incentive to get people to come to Detroit and to stay in Detroit is to fix a lot of the issues that are wrong with the city. It’s to improve public safety, it’s to have streetlights which work and are on, it’s to have streets which are clean and safe.”

Do you think this plan could help make Detroit a safer place to live? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



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Filed under Holly Valente, Local Legal News

Number of 2010 Detroit Homicides And Non-Fatal Shootings Released Today

Detroit Police reported a decrease in the number of homicides for 2010.

Unofficially there were 308 homicides down from the 364 in 2009.

Do you feel the city is safer this year?



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Detroit’s Violent Crime Down 8% Since 2009

The FBI releases statistics showing Detroit has seen a significant drop in violent crime this past year.

The number of reported violent crimes from January to June fell from 8,735 to 8,047, a 7.9 percent decrease. Homicides slid from 202 to 146 — a 28 percent drop — while robberies were down from 2,766 to 2,506, a decrease of about 9 percent.

Arsons were up 16 percent, from 292 during the first six months of 2009, to 339 over the same period this year. Rape also was up, from 181 to 200 — a 10 percent rise.

These are good statistics to hear but I still think about what happened to our client Reginald Burks and what an impact even one violent crime has on a family, especially at this time of year.

What do you think about the statistics? Do you feel safer visiting Detroit?


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Filed under Holly Valente, Our Voice - Op/Ed

Our Voice: Michigan Finally Considering a Public Defender Facelift

Recently, the Detroit Free Press posted an interesting article about the call to upgrade Michigan’s woefully inadequate public defense system.  You can read the full article here

Most public defenders in Michigan are appointed by the Courts.  Some lawyers make a career of going from Court to Court and getting on “lists” for the Courts to appoint them to cases.  They get paid an hourly rate that varies, but there are always limits.  From working at the Court of Appeals, my experience was that the attorneys charged the maximum amounts they could and then just did as little work as possible.

I haven’t taken an appointed case, so I don’t have that experience.  While I do offer pro bono representation to clients in need who I believe are innocent, I’ve never been attracted to the idea of doing what feels like “begging for scraps” in going around and asking a judge to “pretty please” hand me a case that I can work on as a public defender.

There is no shortage of attorneys who do jockey and position themselves to get appointed cases, though.  And that’s why I hope that whatever decision is made will include more than just throwing more money at the problem.

I think we need a “checks and balances” system for the quality of representation that the publicly defended are receiving.  If the State is going to spend money to defend someone, we should be sure that the money is going to actually defending them.

Other states have this in line, and the article in the Detroit Free Press seems to indicate that Michigan might be heading that way.  There needs to be accountability.  When a case is handed to a defender under the current system, there is no one watching to ensure that the attorney actually does a good job.  Did the attorney research to see if there were any Constitutional violations?  Did the attorney make the prosecutor hand over the 911 tapes, in-car videos, and all of the documents and witness statements?  Too often, the answer to these questions is no.

Without accountability, no amount of money is going to fix the problem.  If we’re going to spend more, we need to make sure that a true public defender’s office is put together, with teams to supervise and review the work conducted in the office.

I’ve met public defenders from California, Colorado, and Louisiana at seminars that I’ve attended around the Country.  When I talk to them about their cases, I can see that they invest the same amount of time and energy into their cases that I do into mine.  They care about their clients and have one goal:  justice.  They fight.  They struggle.  They win.

I’d love to be able to say the same thing about Michigan.  Hopefully, some day I will be able to.

Read more of our thoughts on choosing an attorney or public defender here

Have you had a good or bad experience with a public defender? Or just a lawyer in general?

If you are seeking legal representation for your criminal charge contact Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500 or visit our website www.ambroselawgroup.com


Filed under All About Hiring An Attorney, Lawyers

Our Voice: Should Reality TV Camera Crews Film Live Home Raids?

Aiyana Jones of Detroit, who was 7 years old, was killed this past Sunday when the police were conducting a raid on her home.  During the raid, the crew of The First 48, a television reality show about cops, was filming the raid.

Some people are questioning whether the police would have used the same tactics during the raid if they were not being filmed.  Sources say that the police entered the home on a no-knock warrant, threw a flash-grenade into the house, and then burst through the door.  It is reported that simultaneously, a shot was fired that hit Aiyana in the neck and killed her.

The incident has some people wondering whether police act differently when they are being filmed.  An attorney for Aiyana’s family (who has now been replaced by Geoffrey Fieger) has blamed her death on the presence of the cameras.  She believes that if the crew had not been filming, the police would not have used a flash-grenade to enter the home where they knew children were residing, or would have entered with at least a little more care.

This raises the question: Would you do your job the same if you were being filmed for a reality T.V. show?

Should reality shows be allowed to follow and film police during live police raids and criminal events?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!


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Filed under Murder, Our Voice - Op/Ed, Police Brutality, Uncategorized

Our Voice: Ann Arbor Decriminalized Marijuana, Why Not Detroit?

In 2005, Denver was the first major city to legalize small amounts of marijuana.  A few other cities, including Seattle and Ann Arbor have laws that make marijuana possession a low priority for police. In Ann Arbor, Michigan first-time marijuana possession of less than two ounces is only a civil infraction – rather than misdemeanor or felony – and carries a $25 fine with no jail time or probation.  It’s like a speeding ticket and only a fraction of people end up going to court over it.

So, why not Detroit?

CNN recently compiled a list of cities considered among the most dangerous based on factors such as effectiveness of law enforcement, crime statistics, media reports and internal stability. Detroit was one of only two U.S. cities to make the list, listed third after Baghdad!  According to, the Coalition for a Safer Detroit, the 36th District Court records indicate that in 2009 there were 1,521 arrests for simple possession or use of small amounts of marijuana in Detroit. Each case requires a minimum of 5 hours to process at an estimated cost of $350 per hour, making the total cost of these unnecessary prosecutions more than $2.6 million per year.

So, why is Detroit spending so much time and money pursuing simple marijuana possession cases when the City could be focusing their limited resources on more important matters, like dangerous violent crimes? Many people argue that the city of Detroit would not be able to handle the decriminalization of marijuana because it has the reputation as a poor, uneducated and criminally inclined city.  This is unlike the perception of city of Ann Arbor where the population is considered to appreciate higher learning, culture, and trend setting.

The Coalition for a Safer Detroit advocates amending Detroit city code to eliminate criminal penalties for use or possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana by adults on private property.  State law does preempt local laws; so, if adopted, the Detroit Police could still charge a marijuana user under state law if they choose to do so.  But, passing the amendment to the Detroit city code would send a message to the Mayor, Council, Prosecutor, and the Detroit Police – to focus on the real problems of Detroit and stop wasting the people’s time and money.

Most Michigan cities, including Detroit, opt to follow state law where POSSESSION of any amount of weed – a leaf fragment, a burnt roach, or 1 seed – is sufficient to be arrested, charged, and sentenced for a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.  SMOKING weed is a separate crime (“Use of Marijuana”) that carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. If you light up in a public place a judge has the discretion to increase the misdemeanor charge to a 2-year felony

Decriminalizing the possession and use of small amounts would free up the police and courts to focus their limited resources on more important matters – like getting Detroit out of national rankings as one the most dangerous cities, comparable to Baghdad. For more information on the Coalition for a Safer Detroit and the amendment to Detroit’s city code regarding marijuana visit http://www.saferdetroit.net/index.php.


If you have been charged with a marijuana offense or need information on becoming medical marijuana patient or caregiver contact Samantha@amborselawgroup.com or call (248) 624-5500.

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Be Safe on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day Drinking and Driving Statistics

There were 134 car crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day 2008

37  percent of the drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day  had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above

50 of the people killed in traffic crashes on this day involved at least one driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

Local Cab Companies

Michigan Green Cab  (877) 476-8294

The Designate  (888) 929-8282

Remember never drink and drive! But if you don’t want to listen and end up drunk and pulled over tonight….

Call Dan Ambrose  (248) 624-5500

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Filed under Drunk Driving/OWI/DUI/OWVI/DWI

Does defending your home justify murder?

Nolan Finley posted an editorial in the Free Press today on the case of Tigh Croff. Croff shot and killed Herbert Silas, a man he caught burglarizing his home this past December. One of the aspects that makes this case so controversial is Tigh did not shoot Silas while he was inside of his home. Croff chased Silas a block and a half, and when Silas stopped running and tauntingly asked Croff what he was going to do, Croff admitted to police he told the man he would shoot him and then did. That statemnt turned what would have likely been a manslaughter charge for Croff into a charge of second-degree murder. For the full article click here

It’s a controversial case. Was street justice fair in this case? Croff was an upstanding citizen and this wasn’t the first time he had come home and found his house being burglarized. How far would you go to protect your home and family?

Here’s a case where the court found in favor of a homeowner who shot and killed a man stealing a lawnmower from his garage:

487 N.W.2d 843


194 Mich.App. 593


PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Walter HAMPTON, Defendant-Appellee.


Docket No. 137710.


Court of Appeals of Michigan.


Submitted Jan. 8, 1992, at Detroit.

Decided July 6, 1992, at 9:30 a.m.

Released for Publication Aug. 28, 1992.


[194 Mich.App. 593] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Gay Secor Hardy, Sol. Gen., John D. O’Hair, Pros. Atty., Timothy A. Baughman, Chief of Research, Training, and Appeals, and Thomas M. Chambers, Asst. Pros. Atty., for the People.


Legal Aid and Defender Ass’n of Detroit by Donald L. Johnson, Detroit, for defendant-appellee.


[194 Mich.App. 594] Before MICHAEL J. KELLY, P.J., and JANSEN and LESINSKI, * JJ.




The Wayne County Prosecutor appeals as of right from an order of the Detroit Recorder’s Court granting defendant’s motion to quash the information charging him with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. On June 13, 1990, defendant shot and killed the decedent after the decedent had attempted to break into his home and had broken into his neighbor’s garage. Defendant fired a shot at the decedent as he attempted to leave the scene with a lawn mower. Defendant was bound over by the district court on charges of murder in the second degree, M.C.L. Sec. 750.317; M.S.A. Sec. 28.549, and felony-firearm, M.C.L. Sec. 750.227b; M.S.A. Sec. 28.424(2). Defendant subsequently brought a motion to quash the information, which was granted by the lower court on January 11, 1991. The prosecution appealed the lower court ruling. We reverse.


Defendant is a homeowner residing in the City of Detroit. Early in the morning of June 13, 1990, defendant was awakened by the sound of a kick at his side door. Defendant got out of bed, retrieved a .38 caliber pistol from his basement, and looked out the window. He saw the decedent walking down his driveway and away from his side door. The decedent then walked across defendant’s yard to the yard of defendant’s neighbor. The decedent jumped over the gate in the neighbor’s fence and kicked in her garage door. The decedent then went inside, came out, and threw something over the gate. Defendant opened his door, fired one shot, then closed the door. Defendant, upon learning that his wife had notified the police, got ready for [194 Mich.App. 595] work and left. On his way to work, he disposed of the handle grips and the cylinder of his gun.


After returning home and learning that the police had not come seeking him, defendant went to the police department, where he gave a voluntary statement regarding the events that occurred on the morning of June 13, 1990. He was subsequently arrested. At the preliminary examination, both parties stipulated the identity of the decedent and that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.


On the basis of the evidence adduced at the preliminary examination, defendant was bound over for trial on charges of second-degree murder and felony-firearm. Consequently, defendant brought in the Detroit Recorder’s Court a motion to quash the information.


The parties stipulated the supplementation of the record by admitting the report of an evidence technician, which verified that the neighbor’s garage had been broken into, that the decedent was in the process of pushing away a lawn mower when he was shot, and that the decedent’s body was found 100 to 150 feet from the spot from which defendant had fired. The prosecutor, in response to the motion, did not contest that the decedent was a fleeing felon at the time he was shot. Rather, the prosecutor argued that the question of the necessity of the shooting was one of fact that should have been left for the jury to decide. The Recorder’s Court judge rejected the prosecutor’s arguments and entered orders granting defendant’s motion and dismissing the charges.


The general standard utilized by this Court in situations where a trial court quashes an information is to determine whether the district court abused its discretion in binding over the defendant. People v. Talley, 410 Mich. 378, 385-386, 301 N.W.2d 809 (1981); People v. Sherman, 188 Mich.App[194 Mich.App. 596] . 91, 93, 469 N.W.2d 19 (1991). Where there is no abuse of discretion by the district court, a trial court’s decision to quash the information should be reversed. Id.


In this case, the Recorder’s Court, under the mistaken belief that the facts and circumstances in this case unquestionably justified defendant’s use of deadly force, concluded that the district court had abused its discretion. The prosecutor argued below and on appeal that the use of deadly force by a private person to apprehend a fleeing felon must be reasonable under the circumstances, which is a factual question that should be left to a jury.


M.C.L. Sec. 764.16; M.S.A. Sec. 28.875 provides, among other things, that private persons may make an arrest for felonies committed in their presence. However, the statute fails to address the issue whether a private person may use deadly force. We therefore turn to the common law.


The common law recognizes two categories of justifiable deadly force used by a private person: where the person making the arrest is met with force from the person being arrested and where force is necessary to prevent the flight of a suspected felon. People v. Whitty, 96 Mich.App. 403, 411, 292 N.W.2d 214 (1980). Because the facts here do not indicate that defendant perceived any threat of force by the decedent, resolution of this case hinges upon the latter category. According to this Court, the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon is justifiable where the following three circumstances are present: (1) the evidence must show that a felony actually occurred, (2) the fleeing suspect against whom force was used must be the person who committed the felony, and (3) the use of deadly force must have [194 Mich.App. 597] been “necessary” to ensure the apprehension of the felon. Whitty, supra, pp. 411, 413, 292 N.W.2d 214.


Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the issue of the use of deadly force in situations involving a fleeing felon. In People v. Couch, 436 Mich. 414, 421, 461 N.W.2d 683 (1990), the Court held that the common law regarding a private person’s use of deadly force to apprehend felons was adopted by the Legislature through its fifty-year acquiescence following the decision in People v. Gonsler, 251 Mich. 443, 232 N.W. 365 (1930). Moreover, the Supreme Court, responding to Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 105 S.Ct. 1694, 85 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985), ruled that private citizens, unlike peace officers acting under the color of state law, are not subject to the Fourth Amendment restraints that Garner imposed. Finally, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling that would permit a private citizen to use deadly force only if he reasonably believed that the felon posed a threat of serious harm to himself or others.


At the hearing on defendant’s motion to quash the information, the prosecutor conceded that decedent was in the process of committing a felony when he was shot. Thus, the first two elements of the deadly force doctrine have been established in defendant’s favor. See Whitty, supra; Gonsler, supra. This leaves the more difficult question whether the shooting was “necessary,” the resolution of which will determine whether the district court or the trial court was correct in this matter.


We conclude that the issue of necessity is one of fact that should have been left for the jury to decide. In Alexander v. Riccinto, 192 Mich.App. 65, 481 N.W.2d 6 (1991), this Court held that the determination of reasonableness and necessity was a question for the jury where the lower court had granted summary disposition in favor of an off-[194 Mich.App. 598] duty police officer who had shot a burglar hidden in the bushes outside his home. In reversing the lower court’s grant of summary disposition, this Court stated that “the determination of reasonable force hinges upon the facts of the particular case and was thus a question for the jury.” Id., p. 69, 481 N.W.2d 6, citing People v. Doss, 406 Mich. 90, 276 N.W.2d 9 (1979), and 5 Am.Jur.2d, Arrest, Sec. 81, p. 768. The Alexander case concerned a police officer who, although off duty, was subject to the strictures of reasonableness developed pursuant to Fourth Amendment considerations surrounding searches and seizures. Because defendant in this case is a private citizen, Fourth Amendment constraints do not apply. See Couch, supra, 436 Mich. at pp. 433-438, 461 N.W.2d 683 (separate opinion of Archer, J.). Thus, while we realize that Alexander is not on all fours with the case at bar, we, nonetheless, find support for the premise that the issue of necessity, if not reasonableness, is a question of fact for a jury to decide. See also People v. McCord, 76 Mich. 200, 206, 42 N.W. 1106 (1889) (brutal beating of a felon was not justified where he could have been arrested without injury to him or anyone else); People v. Smith, 148 Mich.App. 16, 384 N.W.2d 68 (1985) (use of deadly force by a private citizen against a suspected felon was not justified where the citizen knew the residence of the suspected felon and police could have arrested the suspect there). We therefore conclude that the decision to bind over defendant for trial was a permissible exercise of the district court’s discretion, because the justification for defendant’s actions was a question of fact. See Talley, supra; Sherman, supra. Consequently, we reverse the Recorder’s Court’s decision to quash the information and dismiss the charges against defendant, and we reinstate the district court’s determination. See id.


If you have been charged with a crime that you think was self-defense Ambrose Law Group can help.

Read about our NOT GUILTY verdict in Reginald Burks’ self-defense trial in Detroit at www.thelegendofreginaldburks.com




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