GRAND RAPIDS (AP) – Michigan’s two largest cities, Detroit and Grand Rapids, have seen more homicides this year, even though the overall crime rate has remained steady.
The increases have prompted Gov. Rick Snyder to launch a new program aimed at sending state troopers into high-crime centers. With financially struggling cities cutting back on the number of officers on the street, Snyder has said he is concerned about their ability to adequately protect public safety.
With Snyder’s initiative, many troopers who graduated from training in October were sent to or near Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac. They are among the top 10 U.S. cities of more than 50,000 residents with the worst violent crime rates.
Many Michigan communities have been losing law enforcement officers. State and local police agencies have an estimated 18,849 officers today, compared with 22,488 in 2001.
While crime overall has not been increasing, cities are seeing more slayings. Detroit had 375 homicides as of Dec. 16, compared to 344 in all of 2011.
In Grand Rapids, the state’s second most populous city, homicide numbers were boosted by a two-week spate of murders, police Capt. Jeffrey Hertel said.
The city hit a preliminary toll of 18 homicides for the year on Saturday. There were 17 killings in the city last year, compared with nine each in 2009 and 2010. Grand Rapids recorded 23 killings in 2006.
“We were at 11 up until Dec. 13th. We’ve had seven homicides since Dec. 14th,” Hertel said. “We can’t attribute it to one cause or factor. A couple may or may not be related. One is a domestic related shooting. We’ve got a couple that may be back and forth retaliation.
“If it’s happening in your neighborhood or on your block it’s an overwhelming concern.”
By Monday morning, 66 homicides had been reported in Flint – a tie with that city’s 2011 tally. Saginaw surpassed last year’s 12 homicides by July. Through Dec. 22, there were 30 murders in that city.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)