Flint, MI– Sheriff Chris Swanson was officially sworn in this afternoon to kick off his second year as sheriff for Genesee County.

“I’m going to protect, I’m going to serve, and I’m going to unify,” Swanson said. “Those three things have their place, and everybody in this command, that’s what we are committed to.”

Swanson was sworn in by Circuit Court Judge Brian Pickell, in front of his wife, Jamie Swanson. It was recorded and shared over Facebook Live on the Sheriff’s Office page. 

Before he was sworn in, Swanson provided a review of what the Sheriff’s office has done in 2020. 

He said the jail has been “fighting the same COVID battles as everybody else,” but was proud to share that fewer than a dozen inmates, and fewer than six deputies, are currently COVID-19 positive. 

This year, Swanson said the jail took in 7,137 inmates compared to the 12,000 inmates it booked in 2019.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Swanson said they could not keep everybody in jail the way used to. Because of this, there are 574 inmates in the jail now.

Swanson also shared statistics from the medic division. 

He said the sheriff paramedics responded to 19,657 medical calls, and of those calls, they made 116 misdemeanor arrests, and 146 felony arrests. They also saved 152 people who Swanson said “were dead, no pulse, no breathing.” 

Last year, Swanson said 161 people died from drug overdoses in Genesee County. The average age of death was between 45 and 54 years old. 101 of them were male and 60 were female. 110 were white, and 48 were Black, Swanson said. 

“Heroin is a crisis. It’s a public health crisis across the nation…and we have that exact crisis here in Genesee County,” Swanson said.

He urged listeners who are or know someone struggling with addiction to go to any drugstore, no prescription needed, and get a Narcan kit which blocks the opiate and restores respiration and heart rate. 

“The reason I’m so emphatic about that, is although we’ve had some tremendous losses, we’ve had 1,028 saves,” Swanson said.

He said police officers, firefighters, and sheriff medics saved 1,028 people, with an average age of 25-34, using the Narcan kits.

When medics respond to an overdose, Swanson said they find as much information as they can about where the person got the drugs. Doing that, he said they’ve taken 3,550 hits of heroin off the street, and 1,220 hits of methamphetamine off the street.

Through the G.H.O.S.T. program, Swanson said that they have located and identified 87 juveniles, saved 10 victims of abuse, and arrested seven traffickers. 

Swanson also spoke about the success of the I.G.N.I.T.E. program, an educational program for inmates in the jail that launched last year, and inmate participation in the election. 

“We’re going to create a unification that this town and this county has never seen,” Swanson said. “And we’re going to change the perception of law enforcement.”

Amy Diaz

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...