LOOKING FOR STRENGTH: Faced with a deadly rash of violence, Detroit officers join in day of prayer BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER April 6, 2004 ROMAIN BLANQUART/DFP Chief Ella Bully-Cummings bows her head at the service at the precinct that handled the case in which a family of five was killed. Detroit police officers held hands and listened to sermons, saying that prayer -- coupled with community involvement -- was the only solution to the city's surge of horrific crimes. But others -- from national experts to cops who work the city's streets -- said the Police Department was just throwing its hands up in the air. The department held its first day of prayer, allotting an hour Monday at each of the department's 13 precincts. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings participated at the 11th (Davison) Precinct, which patrols the neighborhood where four children and their mother were battered to death Thursday. Their message: There was nothing that police could have done to prevent the deaths -- or the deaths of the three people at a party on the city's west side Sunday. The change, the mayor and chief said, must come from the community and with God's help. It depends on everyone to call "on the power of God," Kilpatrick said. The mayor, police chief and about 200 participants were led in prayers by seven religious leaders. "We are assembling to raise our city," said Chief Police Chaplin Robert Holt. Some people have said the week's rash of homicides further fed the perception that Detroit -- preparing to host the Major League All Star Game in 2005, the Super Bowl in 2006 and the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in 2009 -- is still defined by murderous deeds. But city's leaders call the charge unfair. "These are not random acts of violence," said Howard Hughey, a spokesman for the mayor's office. Officials had planned the prayer service before the deaths of Lisa Shelton, 33, William Parker Jr., 16, Wrandell Parker, 14, WaNee Parker, 12, and Aushanai Thompson, 9. The family was found choked and battered to death inside their home in the 100 block of Minnesota. Police charged Shelton's boyfriend and Aushanai's father, Roger Thompson, 36, with five counts of first-degree murder. Yet there's nothing inexplicable about this. It's how blacks have behaved, how they do behave, and how they will behave. You gotta mayor named Kwame? You gotta problem.