Saturday, April 16, 2011

Murdertown, USA...with Video

Charlie LeDuff's ride along with Flint Police finds space in The New York Times Magazine and on the local TV news in Detroit.

And Flint Mayor Dayne Walling comes out swinging in an email to his supporters:

Recently, the City Of Flint has been the subject of some very negative press. A freelance reporter from Detroit, with the help of a few opportunistic police officers joined forces to paint a very unfair picture of Flint’s public safety challenges. My administration was given no opportunity to participate or answer questions, and I am deeply disturbed by yet another cheap shot at the City of Flint.

Let me set the record straight. My administration has dedicated a greater percentage of available resources to public safety than ever before. More than 70% of the city’s general fund is dedicated to public safety. We are partnering with Federal, State, and County law enforcement officials and implementing innovative approaches to address the long standing public safety challenges of violent crime, gangs, drugs, and quality of life issues.

On May 3rd voters in Flint will have an opportunity for the first time ever to approve a jail millage that will provide dedicated funding to keep our city jail open. This is an identified problem and I proud that City Council members and community leaders have come together to support fixing this long-standing stumbling block. We must send a strong message to those who are breaking the laws in our community that there are consequences and repercussions for those acts of lawlessness.

Our highly skilled public safety force of more than 120 men and women remains strong, and fully prepared to keep the citizens and visitors of this community safe. Residents can be assured that there is more than handful of officers patrolling the streets of Flint. We have a force of more than 20 officers on duty prepared to answer calls in every section of this city on every shift. On each shift, officers are assigned to general and directed patrols, community policing, special operations, traffic calls and youth cases. Many individual officers do not know the full strength and power of the department. The notion that 6 officers are on duty in the City of Flint on any given shift is absurd and, quite frankly, wrong and misleading.

We also continue to work proactively through our Ceasefire and Blue Badge programs to prevent crime. We have opened a police mini-station in every ward of the city. We are now exploring opportunities and partnerships to open more mini-stations.

We continue to seek out positive opportunities for our youth in this community. The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint has established a second location in our newly renovated Haskell Community Center with the partnership of PAL, the Police Activities League. The center is providing mentoring and positive intervention in the lives of young people.

With all of this hard work underway, I take offense at this irresponsible media who come into our city to use our public safety challenges to advance their own sensational, fear mongering agenda. I am even more offended by the audacity of those few police officers who provided dishonest and incomplete information. The officers’ actions are disrespectful and harmful to the tax paying citizens of this community who expect their officers to have honor and to uphold their oath to protect and serve at all times. Without question, these officers are entitled to voice their own opinions. And if they no longer desire to honorably and faithfully serve this community, there is nothing compelling them to remain with us here. There are many who would love the opportunity to serve this community.

Flint has had difficult challenges with crime for over forty years, and our murder rate has been and continues to be totally unacceptable. This was no secret to these officers when they asked to be hired by our department, and certainly not news for the media.

Yes we have our challenges, like many other communities, but working together with the resources available, we are putting in place solutions. It will take a sustained effort for our community to have safer streets, new jobs, strong neighborhoods, and opportunity for all. Signs of our positive transformation are coming up. Just this week Kiplinger’s Report named Flint, Michigan one of eleven comeback cities in the USA based on the job creation forecast from Moody’s.

At this important time, we will not let a misguided few distract us from the important work that we must continue to do to create a better Flint for all of us and generations to come.

Thank you for your continued support.


  1. Charlie LeDuff is a great fiction writer, but you have to question how this dude is still allowed to work in journalism. Here's a few links to his greatest hits:

  2. Safe? Coming back? I know of someone who had a car accident in Flint just a week or so ago, waited for TWO HOURS for an officer to show up, one NEVER DID.

    Now, how safe do you think she'll feel if she ever has to venture back into that city? I'd say she'll probably avoid it all costs like most of us who live in the suburbs tend to do.

    It's a city run by liberal politicians and the democrats and union thugs for years, and this is the result, much like a mini-Detroit, sadly.


    I've talked to retired officers who tell the true tale of Flint and how dangerous it is.

    No Mayor can convince me otherwise, and the nightly news here locally tells the big stories...and we are the murder capitol!

  3. I myself am Glad to be an EXpatriate as any livng in the city are more likely than not, to become a victim of crime, or murder. I was born in flint 52 years ago, gone one year and do not miss it a single moment.
    Mr walling is self delusional and blind at best.

  4. I guess the big question is how do you pay for the cops at their current pay and benefits package and balance the budget...without increasing the retirement pay out so a mayor down the line has to deal with the cost? More than 70 percent of the general fund is dedicated to public safety. Not sure how you put more cops on the street with their current pay and benefits, continue to do things like pick up the garbage and mow the grass, and balance the budget. Without raising taxes on an economically devastated city. Not saying it can't be done, but no one is explaining how. Charlie LeDuff, whose work I love, didn't offer any ideas. But that wasn't the point of his reporting. Seriously, lets hear some real ideas on this one.

  5. > Seriously, lets hear some real ideas on this one. <

    Everyone knows the problem is driven by drug marketing. Everyone knows that Flint can't afford to manage ongoing petty crime, and has no constitutionally permissible tools to do anything about drug marketing. The suburbs prefer to keep their money and pretend the problem doesn't affect them. The state prefers to think of the problem as local and simply a matter of managerial and taxpayer choices. The feds by and large ignore the problem. Over the years the CIA and friends have even been involved in drug distribution in a number of ways, and the feds have used drug profits to extra-nationally fund various activities.

    Nothing will be fixed until the feds make ending drug marketing a national goal, and formulate a practical plan that doesn't involve interdicting individual mules or processing labs or plants.

    One way to do that would be to bioengineer hardy, persistent genetic-attack vectors for the plant precursors for cocaine and heroin, and broadcast them in cultivable areas.

    Much of the world would be outraged at our transgressing various nations' sovereignity in the process, and hurting poor farm families. We'd have to be led by someone that was willing to say, "tough $%@& with it."

  6. Privatize garbage. City will become a stinking landfill, but you'll theoretically have a few more cops. Make police pay scale the highest possible pay scale. Noone in city hall makes more than a cop with the same years of service. including the mayor. you'll have a few more cops. Shutter/sell/dismantle atwood. sad but time. play ball games at northwestern n swa. maybe get a few more cops out of that, it might be deeded or something tho so maybe not. and outside of a select few (like a handful), pull up the signs from the city parks and end what minimal maintenance is done on them. nature parks now. squeeze a cop or two out of those savings. beg, plead and steal federal law enforcement assistance. still not enough? sorry, all i got


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