A mural in the Hope District of Detroit.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Turn on the TV news in metro Detroit, and you're bound to catch the latest story about a shooting, a stabbing, or some other tragic story about another lost life in the city.

Violent crime is something every major urban center struggles with, and Detroit is no exception.

Inside Jackson Prison.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The prison reform movement in Michigan – and across much of the nation – is one of the rare issues in this contentious era that attracts support from individuals, public officials and organizations with a wide variety of agendas and political views.

A new policy will hopefully help supervisors track any racial profiling
Michigan State Police

State police will now be required to document the race of people they stop.

This change comes after the ACLU of Michigan recently expressed concern about possible racial profiling in an open letter to the Michigan State Police.

State officers have quotas for traffic stops and arrests, but they haven’t been required to document the race of who they stop in their daily electronic logs.

User thinkpanama / Flickr

Peer pressure is often cited for regretful behavior, but now an ex-principal is using it to explain why he stole almost $59,000 from the school district that employed him.    

The Mulholland brothers ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme, the AG says
Flickr user Pictures of Money /

Twin brothers who ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme in Michigan are going to prison for up to 20 years.

James and Thomas Mulholland bought real estate, mostly in college towns, that they'd turn into rental houses.

They were doing pretty well, but they hit hard times during the recession.

So they started recruiting new investors, promising big returns and hiding their financial problems. But in reality, the state Attorney General says, they were using that new money to pay back other investors.

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons

A Detroit man is going to prison for 25 to 50 years, after his 9-year-old son was accidentally shot by a sibling.

It's one of several cases where prosecutors are going after adults for leaving guns where kids can find them.

On November 9, the 9-year-old boy and his then-10 year old sister were playing in their dad's bedroom and acting out a video game.


Grand Rapids saw a drop in serious crime between 2014 and 2015.

The department's annual report says violent crimes dropped 9.5%.

David Rahinsky is the Grand Rapids police chief.

He says this drop in crime is a result of the department having built trust and rapport with the community.

"I think we recognize that the issues that confront us now are not issues that we're going to arrest our way out of," Rahinsky says. "They are issues of relationships, they're issues of trust."

A Michigan man suspected of spraying a contaminant on unpackaged food at grocery stores faces four charges of poisoning food, according to the Associated Press.  

Kyle Bessemer appeared in an Ann Arbor court Thursday, two days after his arrest.

The FBI says Bessemer admitted to spraying a mixture of hand sanitizer, water, and mouse poison on produce and food bars at three Ann Arbor stores: Whole Foods, Meijer and Plum Market. The charges cover two stores.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Dept.

A man accused of killing six people in southwestern Michigan has been found competent to understand the murder charges against him and assist his attorney.

 A judge held a brief hearing Friday to acknowledge the exam results for Jason Dalton. His criminal case in Kalamazoo was on hold for weeks while experts determined whether he understood the process.

 The exam wasn't intended to determine whether Dalton was insane at the time of the Feb. 20 shootings. That's a separate matter.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

Attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Grand Rapids and three city police officers over a 2014 incident that left an unarmed teenage boy in the hospital.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of cyber security professionals will attend a conference in Detroit Monday.

Rob Davenport is the state of Michigan’s chief technology officer. 

He says there’s been an increase in hacking by organized crime and other nations targeting big business and government computers.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

This weekend, there was a high school varsity football game played in the city of Muskegon Heights.

Normally, just the fact that a town has a football game isn't news.

But this season hasn't been normal for Muskegon Heights, and that made this weekend's game - a homecoming game against Ann Arbor’s Father Gabriel Richard High School - something to be celebrated.

Downtown Grand Rapids
Grguy2011 / Public Domain

Violent crimes are down in Grand Rapids, but police there say rape investigations are on the rise.

The Grand Rapids Police Department says it's investigated 40 rape cases so far in 2015, compared to 21 this time last year.

Deputy Chief Dave Kiddle says that doesn't necessarily mean more rapes are being committed.

"We've seen better reporting, specifically in juvenile cases,” Kiddle said. “It's not necessarily an indication of an increase, but improved reporting."

Kiddle says in most of the cases reported, the victim knew the suspect.

cincy Project / Creative Commons

The landlord association in Kent County is teaming up with Grand Rapids police to try and reduce crime. They’re offering a new training program for their 1,400 members on how to react to, reduce, and even prevent crime at their properties.

Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, the popular law and order slogans were “get tough on crime,” and “lock ‘em up and throw the key away.”

Well, we tried that.

What it got us was an increase in the state prison population from 18,000 to more than 50,000.

Kate Wells

The Michigan Innocence Clinic is asking for a new trial for Davontae Sanford, who in 2007 was a developmentally disabled 14-year-old when he confessed to fatally shooting four people in a house on Runyon Street in Detroit.

Shortly after Sanford was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison, a hit man named Vincent Smothers was arrested and confessed to several murders – including the ones for which Sanford was convicted.

Smothers told police they had the wrong guy.

Jewelry For A Cause

Jewelry buyers from around the country can help get illegal weapons off the streets of Detroit.

A company called Jewelry For A Cause has recently launched the Detroit Caliber Collection. The 13-item collection joins similar collections for Newark, San Francisco and Hartford.

Peter Martin Hall / Creative Commons

In an average year, 17 people get murdered in Grand Rapids. Six is way low, lower than it’s been in 50 years.

Grand Rapids Police Lieutenant Pat Merrill says there was only one bank robbery, when 8 to 10, even up to 20 is normal. “One is unbelievably low. It is anomalous,” Merrill said.

A new crime report to be released next week shows a jump in the number of stolen cars and a major drop in the number of bank robberies. Violent crime was steady, Merrill said.

Screen shot of a crime map for Detroit from 12/29/14 to 1/4/2015 generated by

Final numbers are expected to be released this week, but early indications show a drop in the rate of violent crime in the city of Detroit.

Based on this December report from the Detroit Police Department, you can see that homicides, robberies, and sexual assaults are down.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is getting some help meeting its need for training and new equipment.

For years, the Flint Police Department has struggled with budget cuts.

Now the Flint Police Foundation is stepping in to fill some of the gaps.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - Law enforcement officials in Detroit say they have arrested dozens of people and seized illegal weapons and drugs in a coordinated enforcement effort.

  The Detroit Police Department said in a press release Wednesday that the effort dubbed "Operation Wild Turkey" focused on two precincts on the city's east side. City police worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

SST inc.

A Detroit Police Department pilot project is using gunfire detection technology to reduce gun crime.

Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said the ShotSpotter system identifies "gunfire in a specific area wherever the technology is set up." He said it is designed to also pinpoint the location, time, and direction of gunshots.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is rejoining Genesee County’s 911 system.

Since 1997, the city has been using its own operators to handle emergency calls, but the city’s system is aging and out-of-date.

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says the plan is to fold Flint into the county’s 911 system by the middle of next year.

“Our citizens will have access to the most up to date features of next-generation 911, which will include the ability to send text or photos to 911 and other more cutting edge technology,” says Earley.

User: Frank Deanrdo / Flickr

A federal judge has given approval for the Detroit Police Department to get out from under more than 10 years of federal oversight.

The two federal consent decrees date back to 2003.

They were imposed after allegations that Detroit police subjected citizens to excessive force, false arrests and illegal detentions.

The DPD reports fatal shootings and use of force rates are both way down. And they've totally ended the practice of arresting and detaining witnesses.

The department now begins to transition out of federal oversight with an end date in 2016.


Are you afraid of crime? Are your children afraid of crime?

If the answer is yes, Chris Melde says that’s not a bad thing. In fact, your fear could be what keeps you out of harm’s way.

Melde is an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University. His study of fear has been published in the journal Justice Quarterly.

Melde says fear of danger is a natural instinct to remain vigilant in the face of potential danger.

“If adolescents have a healthy fear of crime, it’s really an indication that they are likely to take precautionary behaviors,” Melde said.

These kids would avoid situations like parties with drugs and alcohol, hanging out where there is no adult supervision, or hanging out with delinquent peers -- all of which are known risk factors for violent victimization and violent offending.

He said in his piece that there is a "victim offender overlap." The population most at risk for being violently victimized are people who are likely to victimize other people.

Melde said that when talking about fear of crime, it is not merely a comparison of people who are fearful and people who are not fearful.

“We are really talking about a kind of continuum of people’s anxieties about being victimized,” Melde said. “People with a really low level of fear are actually more likely to put themselves in harm’s way and have a higher rate of victimization.”

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Melde above. 

World Resources Institute

You might recall that earlier this year Michigan’s attorney general filed charges against two energy giants.

Encana Oil and Gas USA and Chesapeake Energy were accused of colluding to lower the price of land leases for oil and gas exploration.

Last Friday, a Michigan Cheboygan County District Court judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy Corp must face a criminal trial, citing evidence of a conspiracy between the companies.

Reuters quoted Judge Maria Barton of Michigan’s Cheboygan County District Court:

"The direct and circumstantial evidence established that the parties did in fact strike an agreement to bid-rig the State sale." 

Part of that evidence could have come from Encana Oil. That company struck a plea deal with the State of Michigan in exchange for its help in Michigan's anti-trust case Chesapeake Energy. Encana also agreed to pay a $5 million fine.

This past May, MPRN's Rick Pluta reported:

 If Encana lives up to its end of the bargain, the state will drop other criminal charges at a sentencing hearing in 11 months.

Chesapeake Energy is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas.

Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, known as Juggalos and identified by their grease facepaint, have been accused by the F.B.I. of gang activity.
Jen Sadler / flickr

DETROIT - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at scrubbing an FBI report that describes fans of the rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse as a loosely organized gang.

Detroit federal Judge Robert Cleland says the government isn't responsible for acts by local police agencies that use the 2011 report.

Fans of Insane Clown Posse are known as Juggalos. The FBI report labels the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang," although that description isn't part of the most recent national report on gangs.

Juggalos say their reputations have suffered because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.

The lawsuit was dismissed last week. The Insane Clown Posse is Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is launching an effort to coordinate programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially children of color.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the community must work together to provide better opportunities for children and young adults.

File photo / Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty this week to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors dropped four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct against former Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls. He could’ve faced life in prison if convicted on those more serious charges.

Instead, Rolls pleaded guilty to a lesser charge plus illegal use of a computer and tampering with evidence.


#155118225 /

People seeking Ann Arbor city jobs will no longer need to disclose criminal convictions on their job application forms.