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.