Flint, MI– Following a violent past 24 hours, Flint’s mayor announced initiatives the city is taking in an attempt to curb violence including closing parks earlier, and providing grants to neighborhood groups for crime watch training.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley made this announcement on Aug. 9, during the first of what will be a series of bi-weekly updates on the state of crime in the city, and progress made on the six executive orders stemming from the state of emergency declaration.
On July 23, Neeley declared a state of emergency in Flint due to gun violence. He said there had been no homicides in the city since that declaration until Aug. 8.
“We saw homicides happening day in and day out, week after week. But once we implemented the gun violence emergency, we saw a drop, a drastic drop, because we went after the drivers of crime,” he said.
On Aug. 8, around 10:30 p.m. there was a shooting in the area of Robert T. Longway and Franklin Ave. Two people were shot. One of the victims died, and the other is receiving treatment at a local hospital, said Sgt. Tyrone Booth.
A few hours later, on Aug. 9 at 12:40 a.m. there was another shooting at a large gathering in Broome Park. Six people were shot, and two died. The other four victims are receiving treatment, Booth said.
Police Chief Terence Green said a suspect has been arrested for the shooting at Broome Park, and that it appeared to be a random act. There has not been an arrest made in the first shooting, and Green said the investigation is ongoing.
“If you see something, say something. We all have a responsibility to make sure we have a safe community for our families and for us to reside in,” Neeley said.
Neeley urged anyone with information about the recent shootings to call the Flint Police Department or Crime Stoppers. Neeley said the city has also been petitioning the county and state for witness protection dollars, as he said there seems to be a “no snitch” rule in the community.
Here are the other steps the city will be taking to reduce violence:
Parks to shut down at 9 p.m.
Neeley said that all public parks will now be shutting down at 9 p.m. everyday. People will not be allowed at the parks after dark unless permitted by the Flint Police Department.
He said this was “to make sure we won’t have any nefarious activities brewing in those parks.”
Green said he thought this was an “excellent idea,” and said that parks have often been the location for large gatherings. Gatherings, Green said, are often the source of shootings.
Broome Park was just the site of the most recent shooting. Green also mentioned Cook Park on the south side, and Brennan park as being spots for issues.
Before the 9 p.m. shut down, Neeley said public parks typically closed around 10 and 11 p.m. He said 9 p.m. was chosen to follow the sun going down.
Block club grants for crime watch training
Willie Smith, vice president of North Flint Neighborhood Action Council, spoke about a $45,000 project to provide crime watch training to neighborhood groups in the city.
Smith said two block clubs in each ward will get training and preparation to start their own crime watch.
“We will take them through crime prevention through environmental design training…to make the environment more productive for positive activity and not negative activity,” Smith said.
Each group will receive up to $1500 in crime watch intervention tools.
Smith said these would be given on a first come first serve basis. Interested block clubs can contact Smith at 810-221-3722.
Crime prevention through community engagement
Pastor Chris Martin spoke about the success of a day camp that has been happening at Cathedral Faith Church over the last week, specifically a community awareness and block club event that drew hundreds of people, and remained peaceful.
“The clergy are getting involved, partnering with the mayor, to make sure that we can provide wholesome, community-wide activities that not only foster safety and awareness, but also hope,” Martin said.
Darrice Martin ‘Brother D,’ spoke about the work that the Man Up Peacekeepers have been doing to prevent crime in Flint.
“We don’t deal with the symptoms. We try to get right to the root cause, and a lot of it is self hate that we see in young Black boys in this community in Flint,” Brother D said. “Self-hate that’s been going on for years and years, and it’s festered to the point now, to where it’s reckless, all over Flint.”
He said many Black boys in the community embrace being “a thug, a gangster, and a killer.”
“We’ve been going around asking Black churches in this community to open up their doors to the Man Up program so we can retrain young Black boys,” he said. “We will not stop the killing if we keep the same mindset. It’s a death culture, and we gotta train them out of it.”
Updates on helicopter, and police statistics
Chief Green and Sgt. Booth also provided some updates at the press conference on Aug. 9 about work being done at the police department.
Green said the helicopter the police department recently leased is currently being equipped, and that they are still working out “the logistics” of using it. He did not have an exact date for when it will be up in the air, but that it would hopefully be within “a week or two.”
Neeley said the city has also had the Michigan State Police helicopter two days a week, every Friday and Saturday.
“That’s why you’ve seen a tremendous decrease in crime and crime activity for the last couple weeks, because they have supplied us with that resource,” he said.
Booth said the department has made changes in how they respond to incidents, including stepping up patrols, having more police to answer calls as they came in, and tending to hot spots more.
Booth also provided some statistics. Since starting these initiatives, here are some of things he said the police department has done:
- Towed 20 vehicles
- Made two arrests for carrying a concealed weapon
- Made one warrant arrest for carrying a concealed weapon
- Recovered 11 firearms
- Made seven “fresh” felony arrests
- Made four misdemeanor arrests
- Made one felony warrant arrest
- Made two traffic arrests
- Issued five citations for traffic-related offenses