Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Washtenaw County has highest percentage of foreign-born residents

February 16, 2015

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a foreign-born person as “anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes respondents who indicated they were a U.S. citizen by naturalization or not a U.S. citizen. Persons born abroad of American parents or born in Puerto Rico or other U.S. Island Areas are not considered foreign born.”

In 2012, 12.9 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born and 6 percent of Michigan’s population was foreign-born, according to American Community Survey. While no county in Southeast Michigan had a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the entire United States overall, four of the seven counties in the region did have a higher foreign-born population percentage than Michigan.

We saw in a previous post that Oakland County had the highest percentage of refugee residents in the region in 2012. This post shows that Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in that same year.


As noted, Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in 2012. During that time, 11.4 percent of Washtenaw County’s population was made up of foreign-born residents. Oakland and Macomb counties, which had the largest refugee populations, were the only other counties in the region where more than 10 percent of the population was made of foreign-born residents. In Oakland County, 11.2 percent of the population was foreign-born and in Macomb County 10 percent of the population was foreign-born.

Monroe County had the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents at 2 percent.


We see above that much of the foreign-born population in Washtenaw County resided in and around Ann Arbor.  Within Ann Arbor and portions of Scio, Pittsfield and Ypsilaniti we see that the foreign-born population made up 20 percent or more of the population. Throughout the rest of the county though, particularly the west side, the foreign-born population made up less than 5 percent of the population.

Slide5 Slide6

Wayne County, which had a foreign-born population of 7.7 percent, had both the municipality with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents and the lowest. The foreign-born population in Hamtramck made up 43.1 percent of the city’s population. Highland Park’s population was only made up of .4 percent of foreign-born residents.

Other municipalities throughout the tri-county region where more than 4 percent of the population was foreign-born were: Detroit (Wayne), Dearborn (Wayne), West Bloomfield (Oakland), Troy (Oakland) and Sterling Heights (Macomb).


In Detroit, where 5.1 percent of the population was foreign-born, the majority of these residents resided in and around Southwest Detroit. In Southwest Detroit, that neighborhood’s population was 47 percent foreign-born. Springwells, West Riverfront, Vernor, Chadsey, Hubbard, and Boynton were other Detroit neighborhoods where 20 percent of more of the population was foreign-born. As we learned in a previous post, much of the foreign-born people living in this area of Detroit are of Hispanic descent.


Opting-Out limits manufacturing employment opportunities for the transit dependent

February 9, 2015

James Robertson, has been coined Detroit’s “walking man” because of his tenacity in earning a perfect attendance mark at his suburban factory job all while walking nearly 21 miles round trip from Detroit to Rochester Hills. Without a car, Robertson must hobble together a defunct set of bus routes, leaving him no choice but to walk most of the distance into the Detroit suburbs. This story is surely one of many in the Metro-Detroit are, begging the question: Why is the public transit system in the Detroit area far less than mediocre?

Drawing Detroit sets out to illustrate the issue and to discuss how allowing communities to opt out of transit service can limit employment opportunities and create a situation of economic injustice.

Below is a map showing the number of manufacturing employees reported to the 2012 Economic Census of the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012 along with the transit status of communities in Wayne and Oakland counties. Aside from the Detroit Department of Transportation, the only existing transit system that is close being considered somewhat regional is Suburban Mobile Authority of Regional Transit (SMART). SMART has bus lines that run throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. In Wayne and Oakland counties municipalities have the option to either opt-in or opt-out supporting SMART, and therefor having it run through their community. In Oakland, the majority of communities-55 percent of 33 of 60- have opted out. In Macomb County, all municipalities support SMART; they do not have the option to opt-out. Because of this, they are irrelevant to the discussion.

Some critics of the Free-Press article on Robertson indicated that there has been little need for low-skill workers in Detroit and other poorer communities to travel into these opt-out communities for employment or otherwise, characterizing these suburbs as bedroom communities with limited job prospects for transit-dependent workers. A quick examination of the map below indicates this is a fallacy. Many manufacturing jobs have moved to the suburbs, following its workforce and also seeking out new facilities and campuses in unsettled areas. Opt-out communities including Oxford Township, Novi and Canton have in excess of 2,000 manufacturing jobs located in their boundaries; Livonia had 9,447 manufacturing jobs in 2012.


In total, 38,461 manufacturing jobs were located in opt-out communities in these two counties, representing 34.1 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the two-county area. Broken down by county, it is 29.6 percent (19,484 manufacturing jobs) of Wayne County’s manufacturing employment and 40.6 percent (18,977 manufacturing jobs) of Oakland’s manufacturing employment.

More affluent school districts in Southeastern Michigan have higher immunization waiver rates

January 26, 2015

In recent weeks news has broken about outbreaks of diseases many have thought were eradicated. From a mumps outbreak in the NHL to a measles outbreak at Disney World-which has since traveled to at least seven different states-to whooping cough outbreaks and a measles outbreak much closer to home in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, we are seeing that these diseases are indeed making a comeback. Many believe these are outbreaks are because of the growing number of children not being immunized.

While there have been no such outbreaks as mentioned above, immunization rates do vary in Southeastern Michigan, with some school districts having rates lower than the minimum thresholds needed to prevent the spread of disease. This is problematic, as low immunization rates threaten herd immunity and puts both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals at risk.

What is herd immunity?

The phrase “herd immunity” refers to protecting a community from disease by having a critical mass of its population immunized. Rather than just protecting the person vaccinated, vaccines can protect the entire community by breaking the chain of an infection’s transmission. However, for this to be successful, a certain number of people have to be vaccinated.

Epidemiologists have determined a basic threshold for infectious disease transmission by calculating both a “basic reproduction number” (R0), which represents how many people in an unprotected population one infected person can pass the disease along to – basically, a single person with mumps can pass it along to between 4 and 7 non-vaccinated people, while a single person with the measles could pass it along to between 12 and 18. The higher this R0 value is, the higher the percentage of vaccinated people in the population has to be, in order to prevent the spread of these illnesses. Therefore, in order to prevent an outbreak of measles, for instance, in a school district, 89-94% of students would have to be immunized.


Photo credit © Tangled Bank Studios; data from Epidemiologic Reviews, 1993.

Furthermore, it is important for the population to be immunized in order to protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants and people with weakened immune systems. When large chunks of the community are not protected against these diseases, it is these groups of people whose health with be the most affected.

What are the immunization rates in Southeast Michigan schools?

Rates vary from well above minimum threshold numbers for even the most contagious diseases (Hazel Park and Southfield schools both have rates of 98%) to far below the threshold for any sort of protection (Madison Public Schools has the lowest, at only 70% vaccinated). However, it is important to note that not all school districts track vaccination rates uniformly – Inkster Public Schools, for instance, is reporting a 100% vaccination rate, but that’s based on an interview with a very small sample of students and may not be accurate.


Note: Data unavailable for Willow Run Schools (white area), as it was absorbed into Ypsilanti Schools this year.

One interesting trend present in the map is how more affluent districts seem to have lower vaccination rates than their less affluent counterparts, suggesting that non-vaccination is more of a trend in middle- to upper-income communities (although this certainly does not hold true for all). One important fact about herd immunity is that being vaccinated yourself (or vaccinating your children) matters less when the population isn’t immunized. For example, an unvaccinated student in Hazel Park would have less of a chance of catching a vaccine-preventable illness than a vaccinated student in neighboring Madison Heights, since it would be exceedingly difficult for disease to spread in a population that is nearly universally protected against it.

What is Michigan doing to boost vaccination rates?

As of January 1, 2015, the Michigan Department of Community Health changed their rules on obtaining an exemption waiver for vaccinations. Starting this year, parents will still have the right to refuse inoculations, but first they have to be educated by a local health worker about vaccines and the diseases they are intended to prevent, and sign a universal state form that includes a statement of acknowledgement that they understand they may be putting their own children and others at risk by refusing shots.

Currently, Michigan is one of 20 states that allow such an exemption. With this being the case, it was still easier to obtain a waiver here than it is elsewhere – for instance, Arkansas and Minnesota require a waiver form to be notarized, and Vermont requires parents who opt out to renew their waiver each year, instead of just for kindergarten, sixth grade, and in the event of a school transfer.

There is a definite correlation between the ease of getting an exemption waiver for vaccinations and the percentage of students who obtain waivers, as one study (Blank, Caplan & Constable, 2013) found that states with an easier process had waiver rates twice as high as those with more complicated ones. Therefore, by tightening these restrictions, Michigan’s vaccination waiver rates may decrease, and vaccination rates may increase.

Blank, N.R., Caplan, A.R. & Constable, C. (2013) Excempting schoolchildren from immunizations: States with few barriers had highest rates of nonmedical exemptions. Health Affairs 32(7): 1282-1290.

Persistent Childhood asthma increases in Detroit

April 13, 2014

Michigan’s level of asthma is higher than the nation’s, and Detroit’s is higher than Michigan’s.

This post examines this serious health issue by looking at the prevalence of childhood asthma in Detroit by zip code.  The data presented here was provided by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Each map shows a different type of asthma indicator, ranging from the number of emergency room visits to whether or not asthma medications were distributed. Each zip code, except for the ones where data was unavailable, showed evidence of childhood asthma in 2012. Certain zip codes showed more prevalence than others. For example, 48207, which is located along the Detroit River near Belle Isle, was consistently in the top or second grouping in every map, with the exception of the one showing prevalence of hospital visits. The 48234 area also showed prevalence of childhood asthma indicators, with the exception of the map that shows overuse of short acting beta-agnostics, which provide temporary relief for shortness of breath.

Overall, these data indicate these overall patterns for childhood asthma in Detroit in 2012:

•Approximately 8.1 percent of children had standard persistent asthma; •For these children with persistent asthma, in the majority of the zip codes had over 25.1 percent of children had two or more outpatient visits for persistent asthma; •In the majority of the zip codes between 40.1 and 56.2 percent of children with persistent asthma visit the emergency room at least once for this condition; •In 2012 most children visited the emergency only once; •Children are more likely in most zip codes to use long-term medications for asthma than short-term medications. •Most zip codes experienced an increase in persistent asthma.  •

The chief policy concern these data raise is the question of why asthma is rising among Detroit’s children.  We will pursue this question in a subsequent post.

Note: Some zip codes do not have data reported. This can be either because there were no cases or that there were so few cases that reporting was suppressed. 



The map above shows the percent of children in 2012 who met the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) standards for persistent asthma. According to the NCQA, which creates the HEDIS standards, is defined as at least one emergency department visit or one inpatient claim or four outpatient visits  with two asthma medication dispensing events or at least four asthma medication dispensing events where asthma is the principal diagnosis. While zip codes 48207 and 48201 had the highest percent of children with persistent asthma (between 8.1 and 9.3 percent), it was codes 48203, 48221, 48202, 48208 and 48201 that experienced the highest percent point change from 2005 to 2012. 


The map above, shows the percent of children with asthma who had two or more outpatient visits for persistent asthma. The table shows the percentage point changes from 2005 to 2012 were much higher for this indicator than the first one discussed. Many of the higher percentage point changes occurred in the zip codes where between 30.1 and 42 percent of children had two or more outpatient visits for persistent asthma. 


This map shows that majority of the zip codes that make up Detroit had between 40.1 and 56.2 percent of children with persistent asthma visit the emergency room at least once for this condition. The only zip code in Detroit where below 30.1 percent of children with persistent asthma visited the ER for this condition was 48212. This area also experienced a 15.8 percentage point decrease in the percent of such visits from 2005 to 2012. Zip code area 48211 experienced the highest percentage point decrease from 2005 to 2012 at 25.7 percent; this area was in the 30.1 to 40 percent category in 2012. Northwest Detroit’s 48219 zip code, had the highest percentage increase at 10.3; it also was in the highest grouping in 2012 for percent of children who visited the emergency room with persistent asthma. 


The percentage of children with persistent asthma who had two or more emergency room visits was much lower than the percentage who went to the ER at least once. In 2012 there were only four zip codes where between 15.1 and 23.5 percent of the children with persistent asthma visited the ER more than once because of the asthma. The zip code 48201, which was one of the areas where between 15.1 and 23.5 percent of the children with persistent asthma visited the ER more than once, also had the highest percentage point increase from 2005 to 2012 at 8 percent. 


As with the decreased number of ER visits related to persistent asthma in Detroit children, the percentage of children with persistent asthma who had asthma-related hospitalizations decreased from 2005-2012. All of the zip codes in Detroit experienced a decrease, the highest being a 13.9 percentage point decrease in zip code 48223. 



Throughout most of Detroit in 2012 between 10.1 and 20 percent of children with persistent asthma were suspected of overusing short acting beta-agnostics. These are medications used for short-term relief of asthma symptoms. The zip code area 48219 had the highest percentage point increase for this asthma burden indicator. The percentage point increase was 6.2.



The two maps above show the percent of children with persistent asthma who used a given type of asthma relief medication in 2012.  The first map shows the percent of children with persistent asthma who used corticosteroids, a type of steroid used to provide asthma relief. The second map shows the percent of children with persistent asthma who used longer-term medications.  In both cases the use of these drugs increased in most zip codes. 

Wayne Disposal releases highest amount of mercury in the region

April 7, 2014

According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to mercury, a naturally occurring element, can cause gastrointestinal, developmental, neurological, ocular, and renal damage. While the most common way humans are exposed to mercury is through consumption of fish and shellfish, we are also exposed to it when coal is burned. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest human cause of mercury emissions comes from burning coal. With this in mind, the EPA issued a mandate for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants to be limited by 2015. By 2016 the mandate is to be fully implemented and mercury emissions are to be reduced by 90 percent, according to the EPA. 


As presented by, above the top 10 mercury emitters by state (this includes coal-fired power plants and other emitters) are shown from 2010. Michigan came in at number 10, with facilities emitting 2,253 pounds of mercury into the atmosphere. Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were the three Great Lakes States that came in above Michigan. Texas was the state with the overall highest mercury emissions at 11,127 pounds. 


Unlike the previous chart, this one shows the 2010 emissions for coal-fired power plants. In parallel with the first chart, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania’s coal-fired power plant emissions were higher than Michigan’s.

In 2010, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan based coal-fired power plants emitted 1,924 pounds of mercury into the air. In comparison, the following Great Lakes states produced these emissions from coal-fired power plants: Ohio power plants emitted 2,865 pounds, Pennsylvania emitted 2,720 pounds, Indiana emitted 2,174 pounds, Illinois emitted 1,484 pounds, Wisconsin emitted 1,269 pounds, Minnesota emitted 873 pounds and New York emitted 239 pounds. 


The map above displays 2012 mercury releases for the 15 facilities in southeast Michigan that are permitted to release mercury. According the EPA, a chemical release means the material is emitted into the air or water or placed in a type of landfill for disposal.

DTE, released a total of 2,127.8 pounds of mercury from its five power plants in the region. The largest contributor to mercury releases from power plants was the DTE Monroe Power Plant at 985.7 pounds. The St. Clair DTE Power Plant released 426.26 pounds of mercury and the Belle River DTE Power Plant, just a few miles south of the St. Clair location, released 364.7 pounds of mercury in 2012. The Trenton Channel DTE Power Plant released 232.91 pounds and the River Rouge location released. 138.25 pounds.

The largest mercury emitter in 2012 was not a coal-fired power plant,

but a hazardous waste landfill:  Wayne Disposal had the highest mercury releases on a single permit, 2,192.48 pounds. The second largest mercury release site in the region, The Monroe power plant released 965.7 pounds of mercury in 2012, which is higher than what the Natural Resources Defense Council reported was emitted in 2010. Although information from 2010 was presented above, this map offers information from 2012 to show the most recent emissions. This same data was not readily available for 2010 and 2011.

Income inequality gap larger in big cities

February 22, 2014

In a study recently conducted by the Brooking’s Institute it was found that, in big cities, the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. For example, Atlanta was found to have the largest income equality gap in 2012 because residents of the city in the 95th percentile of the city’s income scale made at least $279,827, while residents in the 20th percentile of the scale made, at most, $14,850 in 2012. For Detroit, residents in the 95 percentile of the income scale made at least about $100,000; this was about 12 times the amount of residents at the 20th percentile mark. 

In this New York Times article is a scatter plot that shows income equality for several large cities, including Detroit. 

All the single ladies (and men): Ann Arbor has highest percent of single residents

February 10, 2014

Singlehood in Ann Arbor and Detroit is quite popular, according to data provided by the 2012 American Community Survey. When comparing the City of Detroit to the other municipalities that make up the seven-county region, Detroit was one of only four municipalities where over 40 percent of females 15 and older have never been married. For males, Detroit was one of 22 municipalities in which more than 40 percent of the male population was single. Given these percentages, however, Detroit was not the city in the seven-county region with the highest percentage of people who have never been married. That distinction belonged to Ann Arbor, where over 50 percent of both the male and female population was single in 2012.

Slide3 Slide4 Slide5

When looking at both the tri-county and seven county region, there were only four municipalities in 2012 where more than 40 percent of the female population, 15 years of age and older, had never been married by 2012. These municipalities were: Ann Arbor, Detroit,  Highland Park and Pontiac. Ann Arbor had the highest percentage of single females at 51.6 percent; Detroit was closely behind at 50.1 percent.  Highland Park came in third at 47.5 percent and Pontiac came in fourth at 42 percent.

When looking at the Southeast Michigan map,  the outlying counties (Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair, and Washtenaw) were predominantly composed of communities where the population of single females ranged from 10 to 20 percent.  Wayne County was the only county in the region where the percent of the single, never married, female population was above 20 percent in all communities.

Slide7 Slide8


According the American Community Survey, there were more single males in the City of Detroit in 2012 and in the seven-county region than there were single females. The number of municipalities in the Southeast Michigan region where 40 percent or more of the male population was never married by 2012 is more than double the number of municipalities with the same percentage of single females.

Of the 22 municipalities where more than 40 percent of the male population was single and never married, Ann Arbor had the highest percentage at 58.4 percent. Wayne and Oakland counties both had the highest number of communities (6) where more than 40 percent of the male population was single in 2012. In Wayne County, the City of Highland Park had the highest percentage of men never married at 56.5; the City of River Rouge came in second with 55.3 percent and the City of Detroit came in third with 54.9.

In addition to Washtenaw County having the community with the highest single male population, it also has the highest number of communities where only 10 to 20 percent are single. There are four such communities in Washtenaw County and one in Livingston County.

Detroit’s police force above 3 officers per 1,000 residents

January 27, 2014

In the following post, we will examine the number of sworn officers-which includes police officers, sheriff’s deputies and public safety officers-per 1,000 residents in the seven county region of Southeastern Michigan. As can be seen in the below maps, there are several municipalities that do not have their own police force. These are either patrolled by the county sheriff’s department or have a public safety department, which is comprised of both police and fire personnel.

The maps and graph below both show that the City of Detroit had one of the highest number of sworn officer per 1,000 residents of municipalities in the region. According to a local law enforcement chief, who serves on the Southeast Michigan Association of Police Chiefs, it is unofficially recommended there should be a minimum of one sworn police officer per 1,000 residents in municipalities.


The above map shows there is less than one sheriff’s deputy per 1,000 residents in every county in Southeastern Michigan. These figures were determined by taking the total number of sheriff’s deputies in each county department and dividing it by the total population of each county; these results were then multiplied by 1,000.

Oakland and St. Clair counties had the highest rates at .56 and .53 per 1,000 residents, respectively.

While no county in the region holds up to the one sworn officer per 1,000 residents standards, it should be noted that many municipalities within each county either have their own police department or pay the sheriff’s department for coverage. The county sheriff’s departments are required to cover areas with no police coverage.



The above two maps show the number of local law enforcement officers per 1,000 residents in 2013. The City of Detroit was one of 104 municipalities (out of 123) in the seven-county region to have more than one officer per 1,000 residents. In 2013 there were about 3.7 officers per 1,000 Detroit residents.

The Lake Angelus Police Department had the highest rate at about 43 officers per 1,000 residents. However, this small lakeside community only had 298 full-time residents with 13 total sworn officers. Aside from this anomaly, Lake Orion had the highest rate in 2013 with a rate of 5 sworn officers per 1,000 residents.

Within the seven county region, areas such as South Rockwood (6.3) and Yale (5.7) had well above the suggested number of officers per 1,000 residents, assuming the 1 per 1,000 is an appropriate benchmark.



Of six of the largest communities in the in Tri-County region, Detroit has consistently had the highest number of sworn officers per 1,000 residents since 2005, according to FBI data. The rate of officers in this time ranged from 3.2 to about 3.9.

In January of 2013 Interim Police Chief Chester Logan stated he was skeptical about releasing, then current, officer numbers, according to an MLive article. In the same article, Logan also said the city had 40 percent fewer officers at the beginning of 2013 than 10 years prior. While this statistic has since been widely used throughout the media, it also caused some to dig deeper into the operations of the department.

In an August 2013 article produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, confusion over the deployment of Detroit’s patrol officers were brought to light. For example, city officials were quoted in August of 2013 as saying 33 percent of the entire department in 2012 were involved in policing and the rest performed administrative functions. Police officials were quoted, however, as saying that 68 percent of the department was involved in policing in 2012.A report conducted by the Emergency Manager’s Office in the summer of 2013 concluded the discrepancy could not be resolved, according to the article.

While the discrepancy over the use of police has not been resolved, it should be noted the Detroit Police Department has benefited from several grants in recent years. For example, in September 2013 the federal government announced it was providing the City of Detroit with $1.8 million to help pay for 10 police officers. Other grants awarded to the city helped with purchasing new technology for the police department and violence prevention programs.

In 2011, all the above police departments experienced a decrease in the rate of officers per 1,000 residents, with the exception of Detroit. In 2010 the City of Detroit had 3.2 officers per 1,000 residents and in 2011 it had 3.8. Detroit’s rate increase though was not reflective of an increase in the number of officers, but a decline in the population. This is true for all police departments, except for Warren, from 2010 to 2013 in the above chart.

Since 2011, Warren and Livonia have experienced a rate increase. The two cities have been able to sustain their police forces, and increase their officer to population ratio, through increased taxes and department reorganizations. In August of 2012 Warren voters approved a police and fire service millage. Also in 2012 the City of Livonia continued to reorganize its police department, which brought in additional non-officers to perform administrative duties so more patrol officers could be on the street.

Sterling Heights (data wasn’t available for 2005 and 2006) had the lowest rates, ranging from about 1.1 to 1.3. Although Sterling Heights began to lose officers when the recession began in 2008, because property values were declining, residents approved a millage in 2013 to support the police and fire departments. This millage approval allowed the Sterling Heights Police Department to keep 45 officers on staff that were initially slated to be laid off.


Detroit’s violent crime rates decrease

January 13, 2014

In the following post, we compare violent crime rates in the City of Detroit with violent crime rates for the State of Michigan as a whole. The categories considered include criminal homicide (used interchangeably with “murder and non-negligent manslaughter” in this post), forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Unless otherwise noted, all information in the charts was obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (detailed information can be found here and here) Each rate is per 100,000 residents.

Overall, with the exception of forcible rape, the City of Detroit’s violent crime rates were higher for each category in 2012 than Michigan’s rates. In addition, from 2011 to 2012, Detroit’s overall violent crime rate slightly decreased while Michigan’s rate increased. This also proved true for the number of homicides in the city from 2012 to 2013, according to the Detroit Police Department.


The data provided shows the violent crime rate in Michigan has consistently remained well below the City of Detroit’s rate.  For the most part, Michigan’s violent crime rate has been declining since 1994, although there have been a few incidences of increase, most notably from 2011-2012. The state’s violent crime rate was 454.5 in 2012 compared to 445.3 in 2011. These rates are still below the 2010 rate of 490.3.

Detroit’s violent crime rate trend has had more fluctuations than the state’s since 1992. In 2012, the violent crime rate for Detroit was 2,122.9 compared to 2,137 in 2011.

Also, please note no information was provided for Detroit for 1993 because the forcible rape rate is used to calculate the violent crime rate, and in that year the data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by the State Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program did not comply with national UCR Program guidelines. While this rate wasn’t provided by the City of Detroit it was provided for the state by estimating national rates per 100,000 inhabitants within eight population groups and assigning the forcible rape volumes proportionally to the state.



The City of Detroit has touted the decrease of criminal homicides within city limits in 2013. As the chart shows, there has been a decrease, both from 2012 and since 1990. The number of criminal homicide victims in 2013, according to Detroit officials, was 333; in 2102 that number was 386.


According to the FBI, murder and non-negligent manslaughter (a term used interchangeably with “criminal homicide” in this post) is defined as “the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body.”

As with the other crimes examined in this post, the state’s rate remains lower than Detroit’s rate. According to the data, Detroit’s murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate increased from 35.7 in 2008 to 54.6 in 2012 and the state’s increased from 3.7in 2010 to 7.0 in 2012.

When taking the number of reported criminal homicides in Detroit (333) and dividing that number by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments July 1, 2013 population estimate for the City of Detroit (681,090) and then multiplying it by 100,000, a criminal homicide rate of 48.9 is determine for 2013. This number was not provided by the FBI.


The chart above compares the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rates for Detroit and four of the closest cities to Detroit in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (this area is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and is comprised of Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties). As shown, Detroit’s murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate was 54.6, which was 18 times higher than the city with the next highest murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate (Livonia at 3.1).



Displayed above are the murder and non-negligent homicide rates for the 10 most populated cities in the U.S. in 2012, along with the City of Detroit (Detroit was not in the top 10). The cities are arranged according to population numbers, highest to lowest from left to right. Among these cities, Detroit had the highest murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate in 2012 (54.6).

Of the U.S.’s top 10 most populated cities, Philadelphia had the highest rate (21.5) and Chicago the second highest (18.5). San Diego (3.5) had the lowest rate.



According to the FBI, forcible rape is defined as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.  Attempts or assaults to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.”

The above chart shows Detroit’s reported forcible rape rate in 2012 (36.2) dropped below the state’s rate (46.4). This was the fourth time Detroit’s rate had been lower than the state’s rate during the years shown (2007-2009 were the other occurrences).

**Data were unavailable for 1993 in Detroit because “data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by the State Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program did not comply with national UCR Program guidelines.”



The FBI defines aggravated assault as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.”

Overall, the reported aggravated assault rate in Detroit increased from 1,190.8 in 1992 to 1,321 per 100,000 people in 2012. During this time period, there were decreases in the rate, including from 2000 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2008. Michigan’s rate decreased during the time period examined from 458.6in 1992 to 295.5 in 2012.



Robbery is defined by the FBI as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

The robbery rate for the City of Detroit has consistently been much higher than that of the State of Michigan. From 1992 to 2012, both rates have decreased. Detroit’s rate was 1,167.9in 1992 and 648.9 in 2012. Michigan’s rate was 221.5 in 1992 and 105.6 in 2012.

From 2011 to 2012, both Detroit and the State of Michigan did not experience much change in robbery rates. Detroit experienced a decrease of about 11 robberies per 100,000 residents from 2011 to 2012 while the state’s rate remained the same.

Reported lead releases into the environment up dramatically from 2002 to 2012 in Southeast Michigan

December 9, 2013


A number of national and international environmental incidents in the early 1980s led to the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) in 1986. EPCRA mandates all facilities that handle or produce at least 10,000 pounds of any of 650 chemicals known to be harmful to humans or the environment annually report any releases into the environment This information is made available to the public via the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).

In this post we will examine releases of two of those 650 chemicals – lead and lead-based compounds. By releases the EPCRA means releases into the air, water or land. Federal law designates landfilling as a form of release as well, even though the lead may be buried. Below is a map showing the location of the 2012 reporters and releases of lead and lead-based compounds in the Southeast Michigan area.

In this post we will examine releases of two of those 650 chemicals – lead and lead-based compounds. For those interested in learning the effects of lead please click here.

Below is a map showing the location of the 2012 releases of lead and lead-based compounds in the Southeast Michigan area.


In Southeast Michigan, 38 of 87 reporting facilities indicated they had no on-site releases into the land, water or air (These are 0’s on the map). The largest releases Southeast Michigan was Wayne Disposal, in Belleville, which reported more than 52,000 pounds of lead or lead-based compounds. How much of this stays in landfills versus gets released by air or water is not reported. This facility is a landfill that receives toxic waste, including being the only recipient of polychlorinated byphenols (PCBs) in the State of Michigan. In addition to skilled waste handlers, power generation is another top contributor to lead releases, with DTE and other generating plants along rivers and lakes releasing large quantities of lead and lead-based compounds, well over 60,000 pounds.


Wayne Disposal, the region’s largest reporter of releases lead and lead-based-compounds (52,318 pounds), is located in Wayne County, along with about 35 other facilities. It may be reasonable to assume that the vast majority of this went into their landfill, but no data is provided about the specifics beyond the amounts. There are a total of 36 facilities reporting in Wayne County; altogether these facilities reported releasing a total of 54,366.91 pounds in 2012, as shown on the map below. There is a concentration of facilities reporting releases of lead and lead-based-compound in and near Southwest Detroit. However, the largest reported releases in Detroit were from the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, which is bisected by the southern border of Hamtramck and Detroit.


Releasing just over 455 pounds of lead-based compounds into the air in 2012, the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant is large, as well as near areas of dense settlement. Using software developed by the U.S. Military and adapted for use by the Environmental Protection Agency, we used dominant weather conditions to determine the approximate area in which these compounds, emitted from on-site stacks, may fall. The result is shown on the map below. The tri-color cone is the area most likely to be impacted because of dominant weather conditions (Winds 10 mph, 58oF, partly cloudy). The circle includes areas impacted by changing wind directions. Additional clouds, wind or precipitation could create a wider pattern of impact. Within the circle, live 5,963 people in 1,997 housing units (2010 Census). There are also three schools (Hanley, Holbrook and Oakland International) and one park with athletic facilities (Veterans in Hamtramck). Oakland International Academy falls under the cone of dominant exposure.

This set of estimates are based on a centroid in the northern area of the site, near cooling towers, but the results could vary depending on the specific location on the site where releases occur. There appear to be several large stacks and many small stacks on the site.  Some stacks are located further east on the site, which would yield estimates that cover more residential areas in Detroit.

Releasing just more than 455 pounds of lead-based compounds in 2012, the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant is large, as well as near areas of dense settlement. Using software developed by the U.S. Military and adapted for use by the Environmental Protection Agency, we used dominant weather conditions to determine the approximate area in which these compounds, emitted from on-site stacks, may fall. The result is shown on the map below. The tri-color cone is the area most likely to be impacted because of dominant weather conditions (Winds 10 mph, 58oF, partly cloudy). The circle includes areas impacted by changing wind directions. Additional clouds, wind or precipitation could create a wider pattern of impact. Within the circle, live 5,963 people in 1,997 housing units (2010 Census). There are also three schools (Hanley, Holbrook and Oakland International) and one park with athletic facilities (Veterans in Hamtramck). Oakland International Academy falls under the cone of dominant exposure.

NOTE:The software Aloha and Marplot were used to used to estimate the spread of lead pollution in the area.  In Aloha lead pollution can not be estimated so mercury was used as a proxy. The weight of lead per cubic inch is 0.39 lbs; the weight of mercury is 0.49 lbs. per cubic inch.



To better understand the increase in lead pollution, we examined how lead was released into Wayne County. TRI documents releases into all mediums of the environment, breaking them down into details. Aggregating the categories into the three major environmental mediums – air, water and land, we can see that which methods of lead pollution has changed dramatically over the decade. In 2002, air pollution was the predominant medium, accounting for 99 percent of all lead pollution (455 pounds in total from stack releases and fugitive emissions). Since 2002, this amount has increased in aggregate (1,453 pounds in 2012, a 319 percent increase); however, the proportion of reported lead releases into the air has decreased in relation to the total, from 99 percent in 2002 to 3 percent in 2012.

The dramatic increase in reported lead releases has come from land releases – or that stored in landfills or otherwise held on site. In 2012, 96 percent of the total emissions for the region came from a single facility – Wayne Disposal, a toxic waste facility located on the Wayne/Washtenaw border near Belleville. As explained earlier, a facility must report if it handles more than 10,000 pounds of a toxic chemical, whether or not the facility releases the chemical or handles it without a release. Opened in 1997, Wayne Disposal was not handling enough lead or lead-based compounds in 2002 to require TRI reporting. By 2004, Wayne Disposal was handling enough to trigger reporting requirements. Eight years later, it is the largest single reporter in the region, reporting more than 52,000 pounds of lead or lead-based compounds. In future posts we plan to investigate the sources of the lead maintained at the facility. In general, we expect to find that most of the lead is from lead-based paint that is part of demolition debris from older houses in the metropolitan area.