Stop The Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets (STRESS) was a Detroit Police Department unit that operated from 1971 until 1974. Created to reduce crime in Detroit, STRESS used decoy units targeting African-American men. Throughout its three and a half years of operation, it led to the deaths of twenty-seven men, twenty-two of whom were African-American.
Written, directed, and produced by David Van Wie, a Michigan native and the son of a S.T.R.E.S.S officer who served on one of the “decoy units,” Van Wie had gathered the story over the years as he grew up. As his father never wore a police uniform, Van Wie had no idea what his father’s job was.
Five years ago, Van Wie confronted his father about the S.T.R.E.S.S. unit. What his father told him about the S.T.R.E.S.S. unit floored him. He could not believe what the unit had done, nor the consequences of that unit. It took him a year to get his father to agree to the interview.
3.5 years after the Big riots of Detroit, the murder rate was up 300%, and robberies were up 600% from a decade earlier, these units targeted where the crime was on the pin maps they created. The media would make the S.T.R.E.S.S unit police officers appear to be mass murderers. The media were judge, jury, and executioners, and the officers knew that if a man went down,
Without dressing in uniforms, these officers would go to the worse parts of the city and try to get robbed, knowing full well that once robbed, they would likely get killed. The robbers did not want any witnesses. When these officers were robbed, they would then arrest the culprit. Backed up by other officers, they would protect the officer from being robbed. The problem was these police officers would kill the robbers first.
STRESS was tremendously effective. As the criminals were being killed, the crime rate plummeted. But there were consequences to this. As STRESS reduced the crime rate, civilians were being killed. But so were police officers. As well as police officers being killed, there were those who were wounded.
Coleman Young ran on a platform of disbanding STRESS. But when he disbanded STRESS after being elected, the crime rate returned to pre-STRESS levels. Racism was rampant at the time, and the city was a powder keg.
Detroit Under STRESS is told from both sides of the story, allowing you to decide where you stand with the matter. Selected to appear at 25 film festivals all over the country, including Italy, and won 15 different awards, including two Best Film of the Festivals This film recently played at the Royal Starr film festival held at the Emagine Theater, Royal Oak, Michigan.
David Van Wie is looking for IMDb reviews of his documentary from those who may have seen it.
“For my friends who have seen Detroit Under Stress. I am looking for people to rate and review Detroit Under Stress on IMDB. Looking for a written review on IMDB. If you don’t mind taking a few minutes to rate and review, send me a message on FB, and I’ll send you a link to watch our second film Scout 10-5, for free as a thank you.
Here is the link to rate and review: