Gov. Snyder unveils public safety plan in Flint - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Gov. Snyder unveils public safety plan in Flint

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(03/07/12) - Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled his new public safety plan in Flint Wednesday.

It includes millions of dollars for new officers and more jail space in Mid-Michigan.

Tuesday, ABC 12 first reported that part of the governor's plan includes $4.5 million for jail space in Genesee County.

Part of that money will be used to reopen Flint's lockup and some will be used to free up jail space at the Genesee County jail.

Speaking to a crowd of Mid Michigan law enforcement, prosecutors and other city officials, the governor outlined his very detailed plan to enhance all areas of Public Safety.

He's focused on four key cities: Flint, Saginaw, Detroit and Pontiac.

He told the crowd Wednesday, "Michigan has turned a blind eye to the conditions of many of our cities and those who live there."

He said what happens in those four cities mentioned affects the entire state.

Keep in mind, those cities are among the top 10 most violent in the country.

Some of the key highlights Wednesday included $15 million to fund two Michigan State Police Recruit Schools that will put an additional 180 troopers on the streets, $4.5 million for jail space, including reopening the city lockup, and nearly $1 million for additional resources for prosecutors.

Police Chief Alvern Lock says the lockup is key to lowering the violence, but it is not the end all solution.

"Get the lock up open, something we really need as a tool to turn this city around as far as violence goes," he said. "I look at it as three parts: The police department, the community and the lockup."

The money will only fund the lockup for one year. Lock say beyond that a plan to keep it open is still an unknown.

Fire services were also not left out of the Governor's plan. He is calling for the creation of an advisory council for fire support.

While some of that money is on a one-year basis, the Governor says he is seeking long term solutions.

"This is not a one year flesh or a short term answer, this is something we're making a significant commitment of resources to of really hardworking, great people too. To say we need to do this for several years and some of these things in perpetuity."

Michigan State Police Colonel Kriste Etue, says the news comes at time when staffing levels are near an all-time low. She says the force has lost about 25 percent of enlisted members since 2001.

"The advancement of 180 obviously brings us a little closer, but we're still down more than 500 troopers from where we were in 2001," she said.

Governor Snyder says he's hoping to get the first recruit school running by June and get the troopers on the streets in the fall.

Colonel Etue says there are thousands of people already in line, and it will be a hard task to narrow it down to 180.

But Gov. Snyder's public safety message wasn't just about boots on the ground, he's also taking a holistic approach to safer cities.

With that goal in mind, he believes changes are needed in the state's Truancy Law.

Michigan's current law only applies to a specific age group. Gov. Snyder wants to make sure all kids are learning.

"I didn't recognize this -- the laws in Michigan are geared towards dealing with 16 to 18 year olds, saying you have to show for up for school," he said. "We don't have anything that says you're 8, you have to show up for school. How dumb is that?"

Gov. Snyder is calling on the Department of Human Services to take a closer look at how communities can make sure kids of all ages are in the classroom.

Last school year, Michigan schools reported more than 83,000 truancy cases.

Under the Governor's plan, DHS workers could be moved out of a state office and into a school or community building, so they can meet with people where they live.

Snyder added another new twist into the mix, calling for regular school attendance as a requirement if a parent is receiving cash assistance from the state.

Saginaw's school superintendent says the Governor's ideas linking public safety to overall quality of life are right on point.

He hopes his community will benefit from some of the proposed legislation.

"In Saginaw, we are trying to be somewhat progressive, and these opportunities that the Governor is putting for, will give us more to have some funding to support those initiatives," said Saginaw Schools superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins. "This new change in the legislation will definitely support us right off the bat and making sure the younger children are required to be in school."

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