Maybe the Rev. Marvin Winans didn't need the high-end Rolex watch that muggers snatched from him in broad daylight. Because obviously, the pastor does not know what time it is in Detroit.
Nobody is safe here. That is the sad indisputable fact. Not retired police chiefs. Not civil rights icons. Not gospel music legends. Not elected officials. Certainly, not ministers motoring about adorned with jewel-encrusted accoutrements. Respect for position, age and the basic rules of society are gone.
In the streets of Detroit, the mob rules.
Imagine the group of thugs who on Wednesday jumped Rev. Winans. Once they got a look at him in his luxury purple Infiniti SUV and golden watch, they must have thought God had sent a lamb from heaven. They took his watch, vehicle, money and left him standing there with his trousers hanging around his ankles.
You take your life in your hands when get gas in Detroit. Everyone around here knows that. But now the whole country knows and are asking yet again -- what in the world is going on in Detroit?And once again, the police tell are telling us it is an isolated incident, that crime is the same as last year and that last year's crime rate dropped from the year before.
Seriously. That's what they're saying.
Officially a crime doesn't occur if the police don't take a report. Last year, the police answered 38,000 fewer calls than the year before. And magically, you have your drop in crime.
Now we have "virtual precincts." That means the precincts are closed after business hours. When it grows dark in Detroit, you're left to lodge your crime complaint to an operator.
A guy emailed me to say he fought off some thugs trying to steal his car a few weeks ago. He called police. They wouldn't come. They told him to call the telephone crime reporting unit. The telephone crime reporting unit told him it wasn't attempted auto theft, it was vandalism – a misdemeanor. That guy is now leaving Detroit.
That's not all. One of Mayor Dave Bing's closest confidants told me Friday morning that if you have a heart attack in Detroit, chances are you're going to die. That's the mayor's man saying that.
The fire commissioner told me he had no idea the last time the city's fire trucks and ambulances were inspected for safety. That's the mayor's man too.
And now the mayor's chief of police is telling us he wants to get a law passed that requires gas station owners in the city to post a security guard. As if that is going to scatter a pack of gaunt hooligans occupying a desperate corner. Running punks off the corner is the job of the police in every other American city I've been to.
Rev. Winans should be able to go anywhere he wants in this city -- regardless of his ostentatious taste in timepieces. But he can't.
So it is worth reminding ourselves that as the city struggles to get its fiscal books in order and cut services to the bone, the No. 1 priority must be public safety.
Until that happens, I suggest that the next time Rev. Winans plans a trip to Toledo, he ought to stop in Livonia for gas.