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Flint declares a State of Emergency over rising gun violence

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 11:21 AM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley has declared a State of Emergency to combat rapidly rising gun violence statistics.

Neeley said the city has seen 158 nonfatal shootings so far in 2021, compared to 88 at this point last year. That represents an 80% increase year to year.

In addition, Flint has seen 39 homicides so far this year, which is a 30% increase over this time last year. Neeley said most the violent incidents appear to be retaliation for earlier incidents.

He said city leaders have been paying attention to the rise in gun violence, leading to the emergency declaration.

“It is definitely more than lip service,” Neeley said. “We will engage this when we talk about emergency and what that means. It is an emergent state of something that needs to change.”

The emergency declaration requests that “all things necessary be done” to address the rising gun violence statistics effective immediately.

Neeley is creating an Emergency Response Team with police, medical professionals, child advocates, social workers, resource coordinators, clergy and community activists. The team will respond to violent crime scenes and work as a support system for investigators and the victims.

On the proactive side, Neeley plans to provide more dollars to youth programs and community centers to help keep young people out of trouble. He expects to use about $2.5 million, which partially comes from drug forfeiture money and the city’s federal COVID-19 relief funding allocation.

The proposed response team and youth spending came from Flint’s Community Task Force.

The Flint City Council still have to approve spending that money and council approval also would be required to extend Neeley’s State of Emergency beyond seven days.

“I do have a level of confidence in city council rather outside of the strife or politics that everybody sees the emergency that’s necessary here when we talk about gun violence,” he said.

The Flint Police Department is requesting a $304,000 allocation from the Flint City Council to lease a police helicopter for three months. Police Chief Terence Green said the helicopter is necessary for officers to track suspects involved in violent crimes or lawless behavior from above.

Council members are scheduled to vote on the helicopter plan Monday.

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