Sheriff reintroduces 'violent crime mobile unit' to help combat crime in Flint
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
FBI numbers paint Flint as the most violent city in America. Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell believes he can turn that around.
But even though city officials aren't buying in, he isn't giving up, and some residents aren't giving up hope.
Greg Lemmon said he'd buy into anything that could help reduce violent crime in Flint. He lives on the city's east side and said he's been robbed 15 times in 15 years.
"I don't know if there's any easy answers. I mean money's one, you know, we need more cops on the street," said Lemmon.
Some say the city, known for championship sports teams, is winning the wrong kind of game these days.
"The city of Flint's championship right now is that it's leading the country in murder. What kind of city do you want to be?" asked Flint resident Bruce Stiers.
Pickell says his $3 million proposal for a violent crime mobile unit would be a win for the city. He wants units made up of highly trained and proactive officers to eradicate criminal enterprises.
"You gotta pursue them, you gotta go after them, you've got to be relentless in your pursuit, and that's what I'm suggesting, OK, a relentless pursuit of a violent criminal, and we can do it," said Pickell.
He said this isn't being done as well under the current system. Gov. Rick Snyder's anti-crime initiative put more Michigan State Police on Flint streets, reopened the city lock-up, and funded additional attorneys for the prosecutor's office. Around the same time this was introduced, Pickell shared this idea with the governor for the first time.
"We all know there's criminals out there that we need to catch, that we need to prosecute," said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.
Walling said he believes in the current system and believes it will get better if the sheriff gets on board.
"This is going to be a long-term challenge, but again, we'll take the resources if they're available, but let's not get in to the he said/she said, and fighting over crumbs, let's work to make all of our efforts as effective as possible," said Walling.
But the sheriff said he'd rather see a paramilitary unit working the streets.
"I respect what the city and the state police are trying to do over there in the city, but it's not working," said Pickell.
This special unit would work to put officers in the position to infiltrate some criminal operations in the city.
As far as whether the plan moves forward, that's up to the state.
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