Detroit Police Chief James Craig joined a partnership to increase enforcement and public awareness of federal penalties for felony possession of a firearm, the U.S. Justice Department announced in a press release Friday.
The violence reduction partnership, Detroit One, announced the initiative this week and works in collaboration with the federal agency.
Part of the initiative is a public awareness campaign that spreads the message, “You Do The Math: Felon + Gun = Long Federal Sentences,” on billboards, TV and radio in the Detroit area. The other part focuses on prosecuting felons caught with illegally owned guns.
Felons with a prior violent crime conviction who possess a gun in Detroit will face federal prosecution. According to the press release, an offender with three prior violent felony convictions who merely possesses a gun faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, and an offender who uses a gun during a violent crime faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, and an additional mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for a second offense.
Key figures in the area who also joined the initiative include U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and the president of Crime Stoppers of Michigan, John Broad.
“Strong, collaborative relationships with the common goal of making our city safer will continue to reduce violent crime,” Craig said about the initiative. “This has been a very effective crime-abatement strategy here in Detroit and in other cities around the country.”
Craig made headlines last year when he took a pro-gun stance for civilian gun ownership in the Motor City and was later praised on the June 2014 cover of the National Rifle Association’s magazine. Detroit’s mayor extended Craig’s contract for two more years as police chief last month due to overwhelming public support from a city rebuilding itself.
Last year, the Detroit One partnership tackled carjacking in Detroit with a similar enforcement and deterrence strategy. Carjacking fell by 32 percent in 2014, according to the press release.
During the past three years, fatal and non-fatal shootings have ranged between 1,400 and 1,600 per year. Violent crimes often increase during warmer weather, so this campaign is designed to coincide with the approaching summer months.