Saginaw (WJRT) (1/4/18) Serious crime is slowly decreasing in Saginaw. Police Chief Robert Ruth says theft and arson were down in 2017. But there are still some important issues law enforcement will be dealing with this year.
Serious crime in 2017 dropped 3% last year but homicides jumped from 11 in 2016 to 16 last year. That's a 45% increase. Shootings were up 2%.
"The majority of our homicides we have are directly related to drugs, gangs and money," Ruth said.
At a Thursday news conference Chief Ruth credited the cooperation between Saginaw Police, the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police for the improving situation.
"We're reducing crime in the city with one purpose. So that the citizens are safe. So they feel comfortable in their homes. And this is being attained by the team effort," Ruth said.
One problem that won't go away is the heroin epidemic. There were 31 reported heroin overdoses in Saginaw last year. Eight people died. Ruth says heroin is a factor a great number of crimes.
"Heroin users are taking anything and everything that's not screwed down or locked down or nailed down," said Ruth.
And there's a direct relationship between heroin and the 43 shootings in the city in 2017.
"It's a very deadly venture because some people try to steal what the heroin dealer has and sometime people end up dead," said Ruth.
He is optimistic overall crime in Saginaw will continue to drop.
"I hope that 2018 is just as good a year, if not better," Ruth said.
Chief Ruth says as heroin use increased in Saginaw the past few years, cocaine use has dropped.