by Gus Burns
DETROIT, MI -- Although it's called singularly Angels' Night, the event has evolved into a three-night, public-private partnership to keep the streets of Detroit clear of arsonists.
There are thousands of volunteer patrols across the city, increased police and fire presence, temporary curfews in place and a number of alternative activities planned to try and keep mischievous youth off the streets.
Mayor Dave Bing's office announced he plans to visit several Angels' Night events beginning Tuesday night.
Beginning at 5 p.m., Bing will attend a roll call of state police, Detroit firefighters. Detroit police and Wayne County sheriff's deputies at Cobo Hall.
His next stop is the White Castle restaurant on Woodward at Baltimore at 6 p.m.. White Castles across the city are offering their restaurants as warming locations where in they've offered free burgers and drinks to volunteers.
And at 8 p.m. Bing plans to make an appearance at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers, which is the base of operations in that section of town.
Before becoming Angels' Night, the period surrounding Halloween was know as Devils' Night, a time when vandalism and fire was the scourge of the city.
There were over 800 arson fires set between Oct. 29 and Halloween in 1984 and in response Angels' Night was born the following year. Tens of thousands of residents volunteer patrols each year, many wearing bright orange T-shirts and patrolling neighborhoods in slow-moving vehicles with yellow flashing lights affixed to the roofs of their vehicles.
As they did in 2012, the police department is enforcing a curfew for minors from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.
Any minor caught in public without a guardian within that time range may be detained and their parent cited.
Another tool to head off arson is demolition.
Bing says his administration has eliminated 8,300 vacant structures on its way to a targeted 10,000 by the end of 2013, which has drastically reduced the supply of targets for arsonists.
According to numbers provided by city officials, the Detroit Fire Department responded to 93 fires on the days surrounding Halloween last year, including 39 fires in occupied dwellings, 20 fires in vacant buildings, 12 automobile fires, 18 rubbish fires and four in garages.
Sixty-six percent were considered suspicious.
The Detroit Fire Department responds on average to 40 fires per day, Fire Commissioner Donald Austin said last year, and the pace was averaging about 30 per night throughout the Angels' Night period, a decline which he attributed to increased patrols and harsh, cold weather.
Detroit saw just 83 suspicious fires over the three-day Halloween period in 2011, down from 169 in 2010, 119 in 2009 and 136 in 2008.
City officials are urging volunteers to participate in this year's patrols.
Below are the various deployment locations throughout the city:
East: Butzel Family Center, 7737 Kerceheval near Van Dyke, 313-628-2170
West: Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers at Curtis, 313-870-0649
Southwest: Patton Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere near Vernor, 313-628-2180
Northeast: Coleman A. Young International Aiport, 11499 Conner off Gratiot
Central: 10th Precinct police mini-station, 8675 Rosa Parks
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Reference Link: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/10/detroit_mayor_dave_bing_to_att_3.html