Saginaw lacks leadership, police, says safety committee member - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw lacks leadership, police, says safety committee member

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SAGINAW (WJRT) -

(07/23/12) - Three young men are dead after two shooting incidents in Saginaw over the weekend.

Three other people were also injured by gunfire as police continue to search for leads.

A member of the city's public safety committee is critical of the way city leaders are handling the escalating violence and says it's time to start hiring more police officers.

Saginaw has two budgeted openings in its police department right now, and the public safety committee member has this question for city manager Darnell Earley; what are you waiting for?

Saginaw Police are investigating two more murder scenes, one on North Second Avenue. Two men, cousins, 19 and 20 years old, were shot to death in a car on Saturday.  Later that day, another man, 20 years old, found shot on a porch in the 1900 block of Cherry. Saginaw Police Detective Sergeant Brent Vanderhaar says the city's eight detectives are working on these cases, and several other unsolved shootings.

"Working hard, working harder than we should with the numbers we have, we are able to keep up as much as we can with the investigation," says Vanderhaar.

"Its demonstratively clear that we cannot police the city of Saginaw with less officers," says public safety committee member Jimmy Greene.

Greene is one of 17 people on a committee looking at changes to how public safety operates in Saginaw. A recommendation is due in September, but Greene says its time to take action now.

"You've got people, it's 90 degrees outside and most people are locked in their homes," Greene says.

Greene is upset that the city hasn't hired more police officers. City manager Darnell Earley cut the police budget to 91 officers, but it's operating with less than that. Greene says no one at city hall is showing leadership in dealing with the shootings.

"Leadership, is in those communities, talking to people, holding hands, telling them, we got it, no one is in those communities saying, we got it," Greene said.

He says the city needs to start looking at shifting financial resources to get more police officers on the streets right now.

"Clearly saving money shouldn't be the first thing on our minds, it should be saving lives,' Greene says.

We were told Darnell Earley was not available for comment on this story.

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