LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos and Sen. Mike Nofs on Wednesday said that it is clear that state criminal justice efforts have had a significant impact on improving public safety by deterring crime and putting the worst violent criminals behind bars in Michigan, which still includes three of the top ten most dangerous cities in the nation.
“While the prison population has declined, we have seen a 10 percent increase in the number of murderers, rapists and other violent assault offenders behind bars,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The Secure Cities Partnership has been a key part of reducing violent crime in Flint and Saginaw by at least 40 percent — part of an overall drop in violent crime statewide.”
According to the Michigan State Police statistics last year in Michigan, 131,354 violent crimes were committed and 37 percent were solved. A decade ago, 175,125 crimes were committed and only 27 percent were solved. Violent crimes include murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, kidnapping, abduction, sexual offenses, aggravated assault, non-aggravated assault, intimidation, stalking and human trafficking.
The lawmakers noted that the increase in solve rates of violent crimes likely accounts for the drop in violent crime across the state.
A recent joint hearing of the Senate Appropriations corrections and state police subcommittees highlighted the Secure Cities program, which was put in place in 2012 and is currently sustained at $4.5 million. The program supports law enforcement efforts in communities most affected by crime and will expand into more communities next year.
Michigan State Police Capt. Gene Kapp said that the Secure Cities Partnership is having a “dramatic effect” and that as troopers become more active in the communities, victims as well as witnesses are coming forward to report crimes and residents now feel comfortable to go out on the streets.
Between 2012 and 2015, Secure Cities has helped to drive down the rate of violent crime by 45.5 percent in Flint, 40 percent in Saginaw, 14.7 percent in Detroit and 8 percent in Pontiac. There are also nearly 10,000 fewer crimes in Detroit and all four cities saw property crimes cut by at least 22 percent.
The data also shows substantial drops in homicides in all four communities and a 3 percent increase in the number of murderers entering prison. Homicides fell by more than 20 percent in Detroit, more than half in Flint and Saginaw and more than 75 percent in Pontiac.
This year, 88 percent of homicides in Flint have been solved — up from a single-digit solve rate. The program has also allowed authorities in Flint to serve 27,000 outstanding arrest warrants, which has helped restore community confidence in law and order.
“Behind each stat is a real-life victim. This improvement means thousands of Michigan families did not have to endure the deep and often tragic cost of being a victim of crime. We have a moral obligation, through the parole board, to keep these offenders behind bars until they are safe to return to society,” Proos said. “Proactive law enforcement strategies like Secure Cities, smart criminal justice reforms, prison education and training programs can work together to help us achieve the goal of making our communities safer.”
The Senate passed a bipartisan package of 21 bills in June to reform and modernize Michigan’s criminal justice system, noting that as the crime rate drops and prisoners return to society with better outcomes, taxpayers would benefit with safer communities and increased savings.
“As crime drops, we should continually monitor and prioritize state spending in the areas of law enforcement and corrections, where we are seeing the greatest impact,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “It’s critical that we identify what we are doing right, determine what we can do better and direct our resources to where they can make the most difference to our safety as well as our pocketbooks — while, most importantly, keeping dangerous criminals behind bars.”
Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.