16 things that are wrong in Detroit


— If you’re a Detroiter who needs a police officer, it will take 58 minutes to get help — more than five times what it takes elsewhere in the United States.

And if you’re walking around the city, it might make sense to bring a flashlight — about 40% of the 88,000 street lights don’t work.

Those are two of the problems highlighted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as he approved a bankruptcy filing for the state’s biggest city.

The problems have fed on themselves, resulting in 78.000 buildings either abandoned or ruined.

“Does anybody think it’s OK to have 40-year-old trees growing through the roofs of dilapidated houses?” asked emergency manager Kevyn Orr, in a news conference on Friday.

Orr said the city had filed for bankruptcy because it would take more than 50 years to pay off the city’s $11.5 billion in unsecured debt while not conducting even the most basic maintenance, such as filling potholes and plowing snow.

Here are some of the other problems outlined in the bankruptcy filing:

— Response times for Emergency Medical Services and the Detroit Fire Department average 15 minutes, which is more than double the 7-minute averages seen in other cities.

— A 40% reduction in police staffing over the last decade, “causing constant strain on the organization” that receives 700,000 calls a year.

— The police department closes only 8.7% of its criminal cases, which the filing blames on the department’s “lack of a case management system, lack of accountability for detectives, unfavorable work rules imposed by collective bargaining agreements and a high attrition rate in the investigative operations unit.”

— The city’s violent crime rate is five times the national average, and the highest of any city with a population exceeding 200,000.

— 70 Superfund hazardous waste sites

— Two-thirds of parks closed since 2008, with only 107 remaining open

— Fire stations are “old and not adequately maintained”

— A fleet of city vehicles that is “aging” and “poorly maintained”

— A power grid that is “deteriorating”

— A city-owned power plant that has been idle for two years at least

— Some 31 sub-stations that need to be decommissioned

— Information technology systems in multiple departments that “urgently” need to be upgraded or replaced.

Orr said he was “shocked” by the “tolerance towards this type of decline” that had continued for decades.

“How long had this been going on and people were kicking the can down the road and not doing something?” said Snyder, who stood beside Orr at the press conference. “Now’s our opportunity to stop 60 years of decline.”

The governor added, “There are extremely good things going on in Detroit, outside of city government.”


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