Detroit-area police agencies join forces to curb freeway shootings

Multiple departments will deploy officers to area freeways after an unprecedented wave of highway shootings, police said


By George Hunter
The Detroit News

DETROIT — Multiple police departments will redeploy officers to Metro Detroit freeways for the second year of a joint operation that aims to curb a recent surge in interstate violence.

During a meeting and press briefing at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters Thursday, officials relaunched Operation Brison, an inter-agency effort that was organized days after the June 17, 2021, fatal freeway shooting of 2-year-old Brison Christian.

State Police investigate a shooting on a Detroit freeway in 2016.
State Police investigate a shooting on a Detroit freeway in 2016. (WXYZ Detroit)

Local police officials say the two-year wave of freeway shootings in 2020 and 2021 is unprecedented.

Michigan State Police, which has jurisdiction over the state's freeways, last year investigated 67 freeway shootings, five fatal, on freeways in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, according to a Detroit News review of state police reports.

There were at least two shootings every month on Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county freeways in 2021. That followed what police said was a record year in 2020.

"This isn't just a Detroit problem; this is an 'our problem,'" said Detroit Police Chief James White, who organized Operation Brison last year and invited other agencies to rekindle the effort Thursday.

"Our freeways are being used as pathways of escape for violence perpetrated not only in Detroit but in our neighboring communities," White said.

Inkster Police Chief William Ratliff said Operation Brison "has spurred regional cooperation among law enforcement agencies in this area on a level that's unprecedented."

Although no freeways run through Inkster, Ratliff said his agency can still help the effort.

"Not having any freeways in my community, people say, 'Why would you be involved?' Well, criminals have to get to the freeways. There are secondary roads.

"Criminals know when we're looking for them," Ratliff said. "This allows us to communicate with DPD, state police and the other entities in this room."

Following the press briefing, the police officials held a closed-door meeting to discuss deployment and other strategies for enforcement.

Brison and his family were headed home after his brother's basketball practice when police say gang members opened fire on the family truck as it traveled on southbound Interstate 75 near Seven Mile in Detroit.

The gang members thought the truck belonged to a rival, according to police reports.

Two days after the shooting, state police arrested Darius Lanier, 19, and Eugene Hubbard, 21, who are both in the Wayne County Jail awaiting trial on first-degree murder and assault with intent to murder charges. A final pretrial conference is scheduled for June 6.

"It's my hope that we can reduce these shootings, and that this collaborative effort will result in a safer summer," White said.

(c)2022 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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