Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crime: Flint versus Grand Blanc

"According to a Flint Journal comparison of key crime statistics, crime rates in downtown Flint are comparable to Genesee County's suburbs," reports Joe Lawlor.

Some of the findings:

• There has not been a homicide in downtown Flint in two years, and there have been only four sexual assaults in that time.

• The assault rate is about the same, per capita, in downtown Flint as in the Grand Blanc area.

• A person is statistically more likely to be the victim of aggravated assault or robbery in Burton or Flint Township than in downtown Flint.

• Car thefts were somewhat higher in downtown versus the suburbs in 2007. In 2008, car thefts declined dramatically in downtown Flint.

Joe Lawlor, by the way, is one of several reporters leaving the Journal for greener pastures. Thanks for all the great work, Joe.


  1. At the Soggy Bottom Bar in downtown Flint one night, the patron’s average annual income was over a billion dollars. How is this so? Bill Gates happened to drop by.

    What is the lesson here and how might it apply to the comparison of crime in downtown Flint and Grand Blanc?

  2. But isn't Bill Gates guilty of numerous business "crimes," at least according to the European Union and all the innovative tech firms he's driven out of business in the U.S. to keep most of the country enslaved to his crappy, buggy software. (Can you tell I'm a Mac user?) Gates might actually be driving the crime rate up in Flint. But I'm not complaining. Let's get more billionaires hanging out downtown.

  3. I wouldn't mind seeing stats on crime vs. where the police patrol.

    Or maybe crime vs. where people ARE. Kind of hard to mug someone if there's no one downtown to mug.

    Granted I've only been downtown on Sunday... so my sample set isn't so great either.

  4. I was thinking the same thing. Every time I see a photo of downtown, it is empty. This are per/capita stats, but I think even that gets skewed when there are so few people. And I think there is probably a pretty heavy police presence, given the money getting pumped into DT and Carriage Town.

  5. You have to wonder how the statistics are collected. If interviewers are afraid to venture downtown, or if the police have abandoned whole swaths of the city, or if the remaining populace views the police as 'the enemy', all would lead to under-reporting of crime in downtown Flint.

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    The chart with the downtown versus suburban stats ran in the paper but not online for some reason.....So sorry about that.....

    We do take into account population and all comparisons in the story were per capita....Estimates for downtown population are about 1,000 people so we're not talking about a sample size of a tiny amount of people.....That doesn't take into account the thousands of people who work downtown.

    Anyway, we do lots of stories about overall crime in Flint, the annual murder rate, etc. So one story about how it's statistically safe downtown does not make us an "only happy news" paper

    Thanks for the nice remarks about my career. I wish the remaining folks at the Journal nothing but the best.....

  7. Würstside WarlørdJune 1, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Downtown Flint has been "safe" for decades. Was and is true. Rarely have I heard of problems there. I don't blame it on under reporting or stat manipulation either. The same was true in 1989 when nary a yuppie or gentrifier was to be seen.

    Part of the problem lies with the definition of downtown. Many suburbanites consider "downtown" anything with old buildings or black people rather than the traditional central business district.

    Dunno why people who never go downtown find it so difficult to believe that downtown is not a crime ridden hell hole. There are many "safe" pockets of Flint. By the same token crime occurs more often than you hear about in parts of GB and Flint Twp. etc.

    Interesting that this article comes out now that the powers that be are trying to "develop" the CBD. Nobody is saying Joe is on Uptown's payroll, but perhaps the genesis of the idea comes from the incessant (and somewhat recent) "downtown is safe" mantra of the (Y)Uptown investors. Osmosis maybe?

  8. VVürstsydæ VVårlørdæJune 1, 2009 at 7:07 PM

    I heard people get shanked downtown. True?

  9. I've lived in GB township since 1986 and in that time we had a double murder drug deal gone bad 4 doors down to the left, a Ford Escort deposited into a pool 2 doors to the right by a drunk teenager and a burglar rifle through my next door neighbor's bedroom jewelry box while she was still in bed. Downtown Flint is starting to look pretty attractive to me. Even their roads are better.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at