Flint on track to end 2013 with 52 homicides, lowest in years - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint on track to end 2013 with 52 homicides, lowest in years

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(12/31/13) - Flint, dubbed one of the most violent cities in America, is on track to close out 2013 with fewer homicides than the city has seen in years.

Police Chief James Tolbert said the total this year is the lowest the city has seen since 2009 - 52.

It was a brutal year - a summer that saw two children, from the same school, murdered within days of each other.

A man was gunned down inside a church during a funeral for someone shot and killed a few weeks before.

2013's first homicide victim was just 15 years old. Fifty-one others would follow - too many, but fewer than Flint has seen in years.

2012 was the record setter at 67 homicides. ABC12 records show there were 55 homicides in 2011, 66 in 2010 and 37 in 2009.

"The men and women of the Flint Police Department everyday doing great work," Tolbert said.

Flint's new police chief, on the job for just the last two and a half months, isn't celebrating, but does view the decline, near 20 percent he said, as an accomplishment.

"Compartmentalized investigations combined with the state police combined with the lockup. There are a lot of different working parts. The key to all of this is sustainability," Tolbert said.  "We still have a 2 percent rise in larcenies and a 21 percent rise in burglaries. Those are the next things we have to look at."

Tolbert said they'll start the new year with some new initiatives to try and sustain the decline.

There's always been a push to get citizens more involved. That will continue into the new year.

"We're going to do a lot of things to make sure the community knows what we're trying to do and make sure the community is well informed about the crime in their neighborhood and the community is an active participant in the decline in crime in their neighborhoods," he said.

Online crime mapping will be one of the tools Flint Police will provide soon, said Tolbert. He hopes to have it up and running in the next 30-40 days.

Crime Stoppers will be retooled and volunteer programs pitched again to try and add to what's being done by Flint and Michigan State Police. The state police have around 40 troopers dedicated just to the city.

Resident and business owner Norm Bryant is a familiar face in Flint.

He said he's seen it all here.

"The crime is down, but you're dealing with numbers. You can do anything with numbers.  Numbers make the people look good and people look bad. We have to deal with people," Bryant said. "Until I see some job growth in this town, it's hard for me to say it's been better."

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