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Saginaw officials: City’s uptick in violent crime mirrored across America

Homicides in 2020 already are more than double the number reported in 2019
(WJRT)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:31 PM EST
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - Saginaw already has reported more than double the number of homicides this year compared to 2019, but officials say the increase is not unique around the United States.

Saginaw has reported 21 homicide deaths as of Friday compared to just nine in 2019. Officials say violent crime is up in major cities across Michigan and the U.S.

“I have had several conversations with the chiefs of other large cities in Michigan and the Department of Justice in reference to this subject. Everyone has the same issues with increases in violent crime,” said Saginaw Police Chief Robert Ruth.

Saginaw officials pointed to a variety of factors feeding the increase in violent crime -- some related to the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Family issues like unemployment and housing instability caused by COVID-19.
  • Many schools switching to remote education and canceling extracurricular activities.

The Saginaw Police Department is working closely with Michigan State Police, other law enforcement and prosecutors to bring down violent crime rates. The city has more troopers on the street than last year. Ruth said investigators are making progress on many of Saginaw’s open cases.

Saginaw police are monitoring gang activity for retaliation and threats after violent crimes. Patrols also are increasing in areas known as hot spots for gun violence around the city, Ruth said.

Saginaw has implemented Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a special patrol with 30 officers from state and federal law enforcement agencies that aims to keep guns off the streets and eliminate gang activity.

“The City of Saginaw has worked diligently in recent years to lower crime and improve the quality of life in our city. To now see this rise in crime is distressing and heartbreaking,” Mayor Brenda Moore said. “My heart aches for each victim and their friends and family. The loss of a life, especially a young one, is a tragedy for all of us.”

She called on young people in Saginaw to put down their guns and “make a change.”

Police also renewed a plea for people to avoid unsanctioned house parties in Saginaw, which have been the scene of several shootings this year.

“Our police force is actively engaged every single day in finding perpetrators of violence and getting them off the street,” Ruth said. “We will continue this focus and building partnerships with state and federal agencies to reduce crime and the fear of crime in Saginaw.”

Anyone with information on crime in Saginaw is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-422-5245.

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