Eyes in the sky help police take guns, ammunition off streets of Flint

Michigan State Police says the Secure City Partnership has troopers taking guns off the street every night in Flint.
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (4/9/2021) - “We’re fighting very, very high crime right now, and our troopers and our officers there in the City of Flint are doing everything that they can to combat this. And seeing these kind of weapons is alarming, absolutely,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Liz Rich.

MSP shared a photo of half a dozen guns and 60 rounds of ammo taken off the street after one night of patrols in Flint. One of those weapons is an assault rifle.

MSP said troopers confiscate weapons nearly every night, as part of an effort that started about a year ago to curb gun violence in the City.

They now have an added resource, helping them get guns out of the community.

Lt. Rich shared one specific example from the night of Friday, April 2. She said troopers were outside of their patrol vehicles on the north side of Flint when they heard about 20 gunshots fired. You can imagine how difficult it is to pin down the source, but Lt. Rich said there were arrests that night thanks to MSP’s helicopter.

“It’s extremely difficult to outrun Trooper One,” she explained.

Trooper One is MSP’s Helicopter.

Lt. Rich shared footage it captured while in the air Friday night around 11:30 p.m.

The Aviation team heard the troopers’ radio patrol regarding the shots fired and immediately began assisting, according to Lt. Rich.

She said their surveillance showed several people in the area with guns.

“They’re hopping fences, they just dropped probably a gun, north of where you’re at behind the house. They dropped a gun. It’s a long gun. He’s running back at you by the cars in the driveway now,” the Aviation Team shared with the troopers on foot.

Throughout the footage, the camera changed from normal to Trooper One’s thermal imaging technology.

“You can’t hide that heat,” Lt. Rich said. “You may be able to hide under regular circumstances underneath a bush or underneath a tree, but that thermal imaging will pick up on that body heat. And that is what Trooper One can see from the sky and relate to the officers down on the ground.”

That keeps both the officers and the neighbors safe, as police work to locate armed individuals in the dark.

Lt. Rich said troopers are on patrol every night in Flint as part of the Secure City Patrols. You can expect to see Trooper One in the sky much more now to assist, too.

Especially she said, as crime only continues to increase in the City. “I think it is making a difference because if we weren’t out there doing that, the increase in crime would be worse.”

MSP is hopeful by showing this successful effort, people in the community will be encouraged to call 9-1-1 whenever gunshots are heard.

It’s not clear how many people were arrested that night. MSP said charges are pending.

The City of Flint destroys confiscated weapons to prevent the guns from making their way back into the wrong hands.

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