Above and Beyond: Green receives 'Integrity and Ethics' award


– Photo by Steve Thorpe

By Steve Thorpe
Legal News

As anyone who has followed his stellar career knows, attorney Saul Green has always loved Detroit. And now there’s yet another piece of evidence that the city loves him back.

Green, senior counsel in the Detroit office of Miller Canfield, was recently honored with the first-ever “Integrity and Ethics” Award given by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation (DPSF).

He received the award on Dec. 3 at the Above and Beyond Awards Ceremony at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

The event was attended by several hundred civic, business and community leaders as well as local, state and federal elected and law enforcement officials.

The Detroit Public Safety foundation provides resources and support to the Detroit police and fire departments.

That can include essential equipment and state-of-the-art technology and specialized training. Since its founding in 2011, the foundation has secured more than $30 million in grants to the departments.

A former deputy mayor of Detroit, Green also oversaw Detroit’s Police, Fire, Law and Homeland Security departments from 2008 through 2012. He also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and has served as president of the Wolverine Bar Association, board member of the Federal Bar Association and on many committees and task forces of the State Bar of Michigan.

The board of DPSF said he was chosen because of his tireless efforts for the city as chair of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Steering Committee and his current involvement with the Detroit Ceasefire initiative. 

Although Green is an optimist about the future of the city, he doesn’t kid himself that it will be an easy road.

“It’s going to be a long slog,” he says.  “We’ve heard it a hundred times and it’s true — these issues developed over many decades and it will take time to deal with them.”

At Miller Canfield, Green conducts internal investigations for organizations that believe they are the victims of criminal conduct by employees, officers or directors, or from outside their organizations. He also advises companies on how to obtain disadvantaged business certifications available from the state or federal government.

Green has spent significant time in the very different worlds of criminal and civil law and is comfortable in both.

“Most of my career was focused on civil litigation,” he says. “Then I went over and was U.S. Attorney for the district for eight years, from 1994 to about 2001. Although civil work does come out of that office, the great bulk is criminal. That got me very much immersed in the criminal side of the law. So my career has involved a lot of time on both sides.”

The city’s problems are varied and extensive, but many of them lead back to money and money is inextricably tied to public safety, whether in the form of fleeing population or
stymied economic development.

“Public safety is one of the biggest issues and also schools and young people,” Green says. “They then fold into other important issues, like economic development. It’s going to be very difficult to have development unless the citizenry feels safe. There’s no question that major businesses look hard at public safety when making decisions on where to locate. The city needs those jobs and, unless we can deal with these tough issues, we’re not going to have the economic development that we need.”

That’s where Ceasefire comes in.

Detroit Ceasefire brings together Detroit’s law enforcement, social service agencies and the community to impress upon young offenders the price that they will pay for criminal activity, the alternative paths that are open to them and the negative effects their behavior has on the community.

“It’s a concept developed by David Kennedy, who was at Harvard at the time,” Green says. “It fits into a larger effort I’ve been involved in called the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. It asks, ‘how do we reduce violence among our young people?’ Unfortunately, in Detroit, homicide is the leading cause of death for young people age 16 to 24.”

Ten cities in the United States have come together through the Department of Justice to develop a plan to reduce violence. “Ceasefire” is just one component of the plan. It deals with enforcement, prevention, intervention and reentry.

“We’re concentrating on the 48205 area of Detroit right now,” Green says. “That zip code has been described as the most violent place in America. Using David Kennedy’s strategy, you are able to identify people who are actively involved in violence.”

One of the misleading characteristics of violence in Detroit is the near total absence of the big gangs some other cities have.

“We use the word ‘groups,’ as opposed to gangs because we’ve learned that, rather than highly-organized, hierarchical gangs like the Bloods and the Crips, you’re more likely in Detroit to find smaller, less well-organized groups,” Green says.

That can make the violent offenders harder to identify, but once they are located, Ceasefire comes into play.

“There’s a process of intervention where first you identify who they are and then you conduct what is called a ‘call in,’ “ Green says. “You require them to be somewhere. The two call ins we’ve done since we started have been held at the Matrix Center on the east side.”

Leaders of the effort use earlier brushes with the law by offenders as leverage to make them attend.

“You’re focusing, at least initially, on those who are on probation or parole. As a condition of parole, if they’re told to be someplace, they have to come,” Green says.

Ceasefire has identified a little over 20 active groups, and their members, on the east side. They try to have as many different groups at the call in as possible. When they’re called in, they’re confronted by the community. That includes community-based organizations, the faith community and law enforcement.

“We give them three very clear messages,” Green says. “One is that the violence has to stop. Two is that, if the violence does not stop, law enforcement will use the full weight of its authority against the next group that commits a homicide. We had members of the Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the Wayne County Prosecutor, U.S. Attorney’s office, ATF, FBI, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and the Detroit Public Schools Police Department. We had the full panoply of agencies that do violent crime. The third message is that, if you want to change, we have a full network of service providers who can provide housing, ID, job training, substance abuse counseling or just support. It’s been described as ‘Alcoholics Anonymous for Thugs.’”