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Flint faces ‘gun violence emergency’ and helicopter can help, police chief says

Police say they need aerial support to curb “lawlessness” on Clio Road
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 4:50 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Flint is in a “gun violence emergency” and it’s only going to get worse unless law enforcement can do something about it, Police Chief Terence Green said.

“Every day there’s a shooting reported -- even if it’s not fatal, but someone is shot every day in the city of Flint. We’re in a gun violence emergency,” he said.

Police say they can’t curb the violence from the streets.

Clio Road is covered in skid marks and tire tracks from repeated drag racing. Green said groups of people have turned the commercial area on Flint’s north side into their own party speedway. He said videos demonstrate that stopping these crimes won’t be done on street level.

The footage is dash camera footage from a Flint Police Department patrol car around 4:30 a.m. Sunday. The two officers inside were on a special overtime assignment with the Mt. Morris Township Police Department and Michigan State Police to crack down on drag racing on Clio Road.

As the officers pull up to the crowd of up to 30 people, their cars are just parked in the roadway.

“Just disgusting. You know, it’s obviously, obvious sign of lawlessness,” Green said. “They don’t care.”

A passenger in one of the cars was armed with an assault rifle and made an obscene gesture at the officers who he knows are about to pursue him. Green said police were after the suspect because of the gun.

Video shows the driver take off and Green said speeds quickly accelerated to 100 mph. Because it’s unsafe for the officers to continue the pursuit at those speeds, they were forced to let him get away.

That is why Green believes the Flint Police Department needs a helicopter.

“The officer could have terminated that pursuit a lot sooner or not even engaged in the pursuit and the helicopter hovering above could have followed that that fleeing vehicle until its final stopping point,” he said.

But because there wasn’t added help, Green said this driver and his passenger will likely be back out on Clio Road next weekend. The Flint Police Department’s Intelligence Center is watching the video in hopes of identifying the suspects before then.

“I have no doubt we’ll be successful with that,” Green said.

Multiple police officers spoke to the Flint City Council on Wednesday night about the need for aerial backup as crime continues to rise in the city. Council members are slated to vote on whether to approve spending over $300,000 for the helicopter Monday.

If approved, Flint would rent the helicopter from a private company, which also would provide a licensed pilot. A Flint police officer would fly as a co-pilot.

The $300,000 cost includes use of the aircraft, paying the pilot, storage at Bishop International Airport, insurance, equipment and fuel. Green wants to draw the money for the helicopter from the police department’s vehicle impound fund.

If Flint police get a yes vote, Green said the helicopter should be in the air by the following weekend.

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