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Detroit's overall crime drops in 2014; 300 criminal homicides lowest in city since 1967

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DETROIT — Overall crime, including homicides, dropped last year in Detroit, Police Chief James Craig said Tuesday.

The Police Department's end-of-year statistics show that the 300 criminal homicides were the lowest in Detroit since 281 were committed in 1967, the year a race riot left 43 people dead and quickened the flight of white residents and businesses from the city.

Detroit became known as the "Murder City" after it logged 714 homicides in 1974. There were 332 criminal homicides in Detroit in 2013 and 386 in 2012.

Despite the steady decline, police "still have work to do," Craig said.

"While we are certainly excited we're moving in the right direction ... we're concerned about the 300 that were victims in the city of Detroit last year," he said.

Non-fatal shootings decreased last year to 1,054 from 1,161. Robberies dropped by 960. Sexual assaults dipped by 29 and carjackings by 237.

PHOTO: Detroit Police Chief James Craig speaks about the crime rate in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Craig says as he released end-of-year statistics that the 300 criminal homicides were the lowest since 281 were committed in 1967. There were 332 criminal homicides in the city in 2013 and 386 in 2012. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Max Ortiz)
Detroit Police Chief James Craig speaks about the crime rate in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Craig says as he released end-of-year statistics that the 300 criminal homicides were the lowest since 281 were committed in 1967. There were 332 criminal homicides in the city in 2013 and 386 in 2012. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Max Ortiz)

Burglaries, car thefts and larcenies also dropped, while aggravated assaults climbed to 9,302 from 8,854 the year before.

Craig, who has been chief since May 2013, said data that helps officers spot crime trends deserves part of the credit, but that an improved relationship between police and residents has played a significant role as well.

"Detroit had this stigma, at least when I arrived, of no snitching," he said. "I would tell you it's not the case. Our community, in my view, has regained confidence. They talk to us. And because of that cooperation we're solving cases.

"We don't talk to the community. We talk with the community ... and that makes a world of difference."

Craig is more pro-community than some past police chiefs and allows groups to work with the department and share information, community activist Malik Shabazz said.

"I'm glad the crime numbers are down," Shabazz said. "However, we can't start partying because we are down to 300 murders. When it's no murders, then we can party."

But Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality said Craig is the beneficiary of groundwork that various neighborhood groups and other organizations put into place to make the community safer.

"Stats are good, but they need to reflect the reality of the people who are actually making those things happen," Scott said. "It's not just a police factor, it's a people factor."

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PHOTO: Detroit Police Chief James Craig speaks about the crime rate in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. Craig says as he released end-of-year statistics that the 300 criminal homicides were the lowest since 281 were committed in 1967. There were 332 criminal homicides in the city in 2013 and 386 in 2012. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Max Ortiz)
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