The city of Detroit has become in recent weeks one of the main outbreaks of contagion by coronavirus in the United States, the country that has been placed at the top of the list of dead and infected by the virus worldwide. Michigan, the state to which Detroit belongs, has already counted this Monday a total of 2,300 deaths and 31,424 infected, only behind the state of New York – with 19,428 deaths – and New Jersey – with 4,364. But it is that the majority of those affected by the pandemic in Michigan, about 80%, comes from the capital.
Detroit has a proportion of the African American population of more than 70%, a community that has been especially affected by the virus due to the high poverty rate, the high incidence of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and greater difficulty in accessing the hygiene system. With a population of 672,000 inhabitants, the city has already counted 7,605 coronavirus cases and 605 deaths. Diagnosed, of course.
With the figures skyrocketing, the Detroit Police has become one of the security forces most decimated by the epidemic. According to The New York Times, of the 2,800 workers – both officers and civilians – that make up the Detroit Police workforce, more than 1,000 have had to be quarantined since the beginning of the health crisis. Just last week, 186 of them tested positive. Nine others were struggling between life and death in a hospital. And since the start of the outbreak, the head of the Homicide Unit, one of the 911 switchboard operators, and a chaplain who volunteered in the department have died. And although in the last days the implantation of a new test with results in around 15 minutes has allowed the return of more than 700 workers who have tested negative, more than 300 remain in quarantine.
Detroit Police just implemented a test that offers the diagnosis of coronavirus in 15 minutes
Since Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history, the city has improved its crime rate, despite remaining one of the most dangerous urban centres in the country. In their worst moments, the neighbours did not bother to call the emergency number because of the delay of the agents in responding to the warnings. Now, during the pandemic, the crime rate has risen again. During the first shocks of the outbreak in March, the figures remained stagnant due to the tendency of the population to stay homebound. However, in the last weeks of April, crime has escalated with, for the moment, eight homicides, the majority for causes related to drug trafficking, and 27 shootings, according to the New York newspaper. The number of complaints of domestic violence has also increased.
The lack of personnel due to the virus has multiplied the workload of the agents on duty. But the virus has also altered the body’s work dynamics and slowed response times. Instead of regular briefings, officers receive instructions in an envelope after undergoing a temperature check. During arrests, detainees must be provided with their appropriate face masks and disinfect patrol cars after each transfer. Interrogations are being conducted over the phone to keep the safety distance, thus losing information from non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions or body language.
For this reason, due to this rise in the crime rate and the lack of troops to deal with it, the Police have decided to open their hands in the event of a minor infraction, such as the case of skipping a red light; The department recognizes that the health risks of the agents or of the offenders are not worth the risk in cases that are not seriously affected.