With crime rates dropping, will troopers be pulled from streets? - WNEM TV 5

With crime rates dropping, will troopers be pulled from streets?

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

Police and residents in Flint and Saginaw are welcoming good news as FBI crime stats show both cities posted double-digit drops in violent crime.

Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

They’re among four cities, including Pontiac and Detroit, patrolled by state police.

Officer James Wheeler is a 19-year veteran of the Flint police force. He said it's a highlight of his career to see the city get off the FBI’s top 10 most violent cities list. 

"The people in the city deserve this. They deserve to see the improvement and they deserve to know that things have gotten better,” Wheeler said.

Statistics show violent crimes in Flint dropped 14-percent in 2015 compared to 2014.

Flint Police Captain Devon Bernritter said the numbers keep getting better.

"We are showing a 40-percent reduction in homicides in 2016 and those numbers aren't even reflected on the FBI stats yet,” Bernritter said.

It’s an improvement residents said they’ve noticed.

“The police are protecting every area, making sure the crime’s down in every neighborhood,” said Phil Matthews, a Flint resident.

There are more police doing that work.

Four years ago, Flint’s police department got help when the governor assigned state police to patrol crime-ridden areas.

"It's why crime is down. And it's a team effort. The Michigan State Police isn't going to do it by themselves nor is the Flint Police Department,” Lt. David Kaiser with MSP said.

However, Chief Tim Johnson said in June he does not want to depend on state police to do city work. It’s something Bernritter said the chief stands by.

"I can tell that the chief of police feels that the city of Flint is best served by the City of Flint Police Department. That is not to say we aren't thankful for all the support we've gotten from other agencies,” Bernritter said.

Wheeler said the work to make Flint a safer place is far from over.

“We just keep pushing and keep pressing. And we’re glad it’s gotten better. And this is just the beginning of the improvements,” he said.

In Saginaw, the chief of police credits the state police and other agencies for the city’s downward trend in violent crime.

“It’s not the maybe…safest place in the world you’re going to find, but it’s not the kind of crime we saw five, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago,” Robert Ruth said.

Ruth also credits neighborhood associations for clean-up efforts that help keep crime at bay. 

For more information on the crime stats, click here

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