crime

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says new FBI crime numbers show there’s still work to be done to make Michigan cities safer.

Flint and Detroit topped the FBI’s list of most-dangerous cities, which is based on 2011 data.

But Governor Snyder says the state’s been aggressive about public safety, especially in Detroit, where violent crime rates have improved.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A group of police chiefs and district attorneys is asking Congress to invest $75 billion over the next ten years on early childhood programs with proven success. The group says the investment will more than pay for itself in terms of reducing crime and prison costs.

The group says it’ll save money on prison costs in the long run.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says the State of Michigan and the country is at a fork in the road; spend money now on early childhood development, or spend more money later in the corrections department.

Inventorchris / Creative Commons

African-American drivers are more than twice as likely to get pulled over than Caucasian drivers in the City of Kalamazoo. That’s according to a study the city released this week.

The study only looked at how the department deals with traffic stops. The data covers stops between March 2012 and February 2013.

Village hopes a private prison brings jobs, money
Flickr user Still Burning / Creative Commons

It was 1998 when Michigan's lawmakers voted to approve tougher "lock 'em up policies."

Some may argue whether that made Michigan any safer, but one thing cannot be argued: Michigan leads the nation in average time served by inmates: 4.3 years. That's 48% higher than the national average of 2.9 years. That's according to a 2012 national study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

And these tough sentencing guidelines are exacting a cost from the state's collective "wallet." Michigan's corrections budget currently exceeds $2 billion.

The state sentencing guidelines have not been reviewed for 15 years.

In response, the Michigan Law Review Commission has launched a bipartisan review to figure out just where Michigan stands when compared to the rest of the nation, and where reform might be needed.

Dustin Dwyer

Last month, a disagreement on a residential street in Muskegon turned into a massive gun battle. Six men were armed. Dozens of shots sprayed in all directions.

At the house directly behind the gunfight, three children played on a porch.

And one woman ran into the line of fire to try to save them.

Today we begin a three-part series about the incident, and look at how the dramatic rise of gun crimes in Muskegon is putting more kids at risk.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Communities across Michigan will be marking National Night Out this week.

National Night Out is intended to encourage people to get out of their homes and meet their neighbors.

Flint is holding a community party downtown today. 

Flint community leaders hope this week’s National Night Out will help them battle the city’s crime problem.   Flint has recorded three dozen homicides this year.  

Mayor Dayne Walling hopes events like National Night Out will help local police and neighborhood watch groups work more closely together.

With the historic Detroit bankruptcy filing, there has been much talk about money, about taxes, about shrinking revenue and rising legacy costs.

But two of our guests on Stateside today strongly believe all of those "dollar-based" conversations overlook one of the biggest reasons people leave Detroit and why people don't want to live in Detroit. And that is crime.

According to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's report to the city's creditors, Detroit's violent crime rate is five times the national average. And it takes Detroit police an average of 58 minutes to respond to a call, where the national average is 11 minutes.

Those harsh realities are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

How will these chronic, stubbornly high levels of crime affect Detroit's recovery and what can be done going forward to make Detroit a safer place to live and work?

Carl Taylor, Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University, and Jeff Hadden, the former deputy editorial page director for the Detroit News, joined us today.

Google Maps

With all the problems in Flint and Detroit, it's no surprise we see these cities end up on "most dangerous cities" lists.

The lists are generated using violent crime statistics from the FBI's annual "Uniform Crime Reports."

But all cities have neighborhoods prone to crime and many other neighborhoods that are not. They are safe, for the most part.

Location, Inc. says they took data from the FBI and other "exclusive data" developed by the company to rank the safety of specific neighborhoods around the country. 

Earlier this month, they released their list, Top 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in America, on their website NeighborhoodScout. There are six Michigan neighborhoods on the list. The top three are in Detroit.

(Click on the street names below to see a map of the neighborhoods.)

  1. Detroit (West Chicago / Livernois Avenue)
  2. Detroit (Mack Avenue / Helen Street)
  3. Detroit (Gratiot Avenue / Rosemary)
  4. Detroit (Wyoming Street / Orangelawn Street)
  5. Saginaw (East Holland Avenue / East Genesee Avenue)
  6. Flint (Chambers Street / Stonegate Drive)
LinkedIn

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr named former Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig as Detroit's new Chief of Police.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett attended the press conference, where Orr announced that Craig will begin July 1, 2013:

The new police chief of Michigan's largest city says he's committed to reducing violence and making the Detroit Police Department a premier police agency.

This announcement followed the plan that Orr outlined in his 45-day report on Detroit's economic status. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fraudulent loan activity declined slightly in Michigan at the end of last year.

Kroll Factual Data checks loan applications for phony buyers, attempts to misrepresent the value of homes and other fraudulent information.

Kroll president Rod Bazzani says there's been a surge in home loan refinancing, which may explain the decline.   He says refinancing more than doubled last year.

“When you understand that statistic, you realize you’re going to have much less fraud in a refinance environment than you would in a purchase loan environment,” says Bazzani.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - An insurance company says more than a dozen people operated an arson-for-profit ring in Flint that collected more than $2 million over two decades.

The Flint Journal reports State Farm Insurance says in a lawsuit in Detroit federal court that fires purposely were started at homes owned or rented by members of the group. The insurer says insurance claims were filed to receive thousands of dollars in insurance payouts.

No criminal charges have been filed against any of those named the case.

The case has sparked counter lawsuits by some of the defendants. Six of those named in the State Farm lawsuit have settled, including Flint-based public adjustment company Allied and Associates and Gary Lappin, its president. He calls the case "witch hunt."

State Farm isn't discussing the case.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There are seven new police officers patrolling the streets of Flint. They were hired as part of a public safety millage approved by Flint voters last November.

The millage is expected to generate $5.3 million this year, but what's going to happen in future years as the population keeps shrinking and property values drop?

With the recent hiring of seven officers, the Flint Police Department now has 124 officers. That is down from an estimated 350 officers when times were better.

Will these new officers help make a dent in Flint's crime rate? Flint is in the unenviable spot near the top of many of the "most violent city" lists.

Kevin Smith is the president of the Flint Police Officer's Association.

He mentioned that the seven new officers won't make a big difference any time soon.  We asked what it would take, in terms of staffing, to make Flint noticeably safer.

To hear the full interview, click the link above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling says his city must now make a transition to an era of 'reconstruction' after a 'generation of decline.'

Walling told the audience at his ‘State of the City’ address Monday that in order to begin that transition Flint must deal with its crime problem.

Flint had the worst violent crime rate in the nation last year. 

“We have lost too many lives. Too many of our promising youth who were confined to environments that were always dangerous and all too often became deadly,” Walling told his audience.

HeatherHeatherHeather / Creative Commons

There have been nine murders in the last thirty days in Grand Rapids. That’s almost as many as the state’s second largest city sees during an average year. But the community is working on a game plan to fight the violence.

Friday morning about a thousand people gathered at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church. They prayed and they made plans for many smaller meetings over the next 60 days.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposed overhaul to Michigan’s public defense system will have to wait until next year for action by the state Legislature.

State lawmakers passed a flurry of bills in their “lame duck” session. But there were a number of high-profile bills that didn’t move at all.

One of those would change the way the state appoints lawyers to people who can’t afford one.

Michigan’s public defense system is considered one of the worst in the country.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says 13 police mini-stations will open throughout the city.

Six of them have opened today, and the rest will be in place by March.

The announcement comes on the day police confirmed the shooting deaths of four people in a home on the east side of Detroit, and a week after the city acknowledged that the number of homicides this year has already has eclipsed the total for 2011.

Each of the mini-stations will be staffed with a permanent officer, a police reservist and a community volunteer.

DETROIT (AP) - Floating paper lanterns will be launched in Detroit's former Chinatown as part of a community-based event.

The Saturday evening event near Wayne State University is dubbed "Illuminating Chinatown." The lanterns made by local artists, designers and university students are set to be launched in a block without working street lights.

Paper lanterns were first used as signaling balloons and now are used in festivals to signify good luck and new beginnings. Organizers say they also intend for them to signal change coming from the hands of the community.

A sketch of the man suspected of random shootings in a four-county area along I-96 in Michigan.
MSP

Update Thursday, November 1, 2:00 p.m.

A series of shootings on or near I-96 has Michigan motorists thinking twice about driving the interstate.

A police task force reports 24 confirmed shootings since October 16. Here is a summary of what we've learned since then:

Inventorchris / Creative Commons

Kalamazoo’s Public Safety Department is conducting a study to see if its officers unfairly target racial and ethnic minorities.

The study is not being court ordered, the city isn’t being sued, and there hasn’t been any big incident that sparked the study. Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley says that’s a good thing.

“These types of issues can bring a lot of emotion… and it makes it a lot more difficult to talk reasonably and to talk productively and constructively in how we move forward,” Hadley said.

Hadley says the department wants to try to avoid problems and they’re hoping the study will help.

“Spending money on this type of study I think is really an investment into our relationship with the community; and how important they are in how we operate as a public safety department and how we keep this city safe,” Hadley said.

DETROIT (AP) — The new Detroit Crime Commission is getting a $1 million federal grant to help fight crime on the city's east side.

The money will be used to develop a "data-driven approach" to identify issues fueling crime. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says she's putting an assistant prosecutor in place to concentrate on Detroit's east side.

U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., will present a symbolic check to the Detroit Crime Commission on Tuesday. The commission is a nonprofit group formed last year to act as a liaison between the public and law enforcement agencies.

It is staffed by retired law enforcers and led by Andrew Arena, the former head of the Detroit FBI.

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