Flint Mayor reacts to news reports on Flint crime

Apr 19, 2011

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling took issue with two reports on crime in Flint and police layoffs: an article published in the New York Times; and a WJBK Fox 2 news report.

Both were by reporter Charles LeDuff.

Here are some excerpts from Walling's letter posted on votewalling.com:

...I am deeply disturbed by yet another cheap shot at the City of Flint.

Let me set the record straight. My administration has dedicated a greater percentage of available resources to public safety than ever before.  More than 70% of the city’s general fund is dedicated to public safety.  We are partnering with Federal, State, and County law enforcement officials and implementing innovative approaches to address the long standing public safety challenges of violent crime, gangs, drugs, and quality of life issues...

Our highly skilled public safety force of more than 120 men and women remains strong, and fully prepared to keep the citizens and visitors of this community safe.  Residents can be assured that there is more than handful of officers patrolling the streets of Flint.  We have a force of more than 20 officers on duty prepared to answer calls in every section of this city on every shift. On each shift, officers are assigned to general and directed patrols, community policing, special operations, traffic calls and youth cases.  Many individual officers do not know the full strength and power of the department. The notion that 6 officers are on duty in the City of Flint on any given shift is absurd and, quite frankly, wrong and misleading.

...With all of this hard work underway, I take offense at this irresponsible media who come into our city to use our public safety challenges to advance their own sensational, fear mongering agenda.  I am even more offended by the audacity of those few police officers who provided dishonest and incomplete information. The officers’ actions are disrespectful and harmful to the tax paying citizens of this community who expect their officers to have honor and to uphold their oath to protect and serve at all times.  Without question, these officers are entitled to voice their own opinions.   And if they no longer desire to honorably and faithfully serve this community, there is nothing compelling them to remain with us here.  There are many who would love the opportunity to serve this community....

Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal wrote about the controversy and spoke with the president of the Flint Patrol Officers Union, Brian Burdy:

Burdy...took issue with Walling's response to the stories.

He said the city's police officers "put their lives in danger day in and day out."

"Sometimes the truth hurts," Burdy said. "You can't sugarcoat everything. His anger should be directed at the reporter, not the officers."

Burdy said he thought the articles were "pretty much right on."

"That's the way it is in this city," he said. "Sorry it brought a negative light to Flint but that's the way it is."