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Tue January 15, 2013
Stateside: Investigating Michigan's homicide rate
Though the national homicide rate has declined over the past decades, many Michigan cities are struggling to follow the trend.
Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint and Gregg Barak, Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University and author of "Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding" spoke with Cyndy about the state’s homicides.
“Homicide rates across the country are down to about 4.8 per 100,000…Here in Michigan, the state as a whole is at 6.2. In Detroit, it’s eight times higher…I’m not that surprised in terms of Detroit. Its rate today is no higher than it was when we were identified as the murder capital of the world,” said Barak.
“There’s been great concern all across the community…One of the things we see is that almost all of our homicides involve guns…There’s a prevalence of violence and that is, in my view, adding to the difficulties around the traditional socio-economic challenges,” said Walling.
Barak then addressed the geography of the violence.
“My view is that these problems are more localized and geographically contained,” said Barak.
“There are a number of neighborhoods that are being affected by gun violence. But if you take a broader view and you look at the number of incidents that have taken place over the last four to five years, the disturbing challenge is the number of violent criminal incidents are taking place in a large number of the city’s neighborhoods…” said Walling.
The policies that affect these matters are made outside of city government control, Walling added.
Barak noted a possible means of reducing the state's homicides.
“If I look at it as a city-wide problem, given the economic situation we’re in, I would even talk in terms of federal assistance to buttress law enforcement, which I know is probably not a popular idea,” said Barak.
Walling said this funding would be a welcome development.
“I support the key federal reforms that I believe will make every community safer. We need a specific federal law to address gun trafficking. In addition to that, we’re promoting the “Cops in Schools” program and hoping the President will make a renewed commitment to try to get funding for the program,” said Walling.
The state needs new youth development and intervention programs that deter teenagers from gangs, said Barak.
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