Ensuring the safety of our citizens and security of our communities is critical to Michigan's reinvention. While reported crime rates are down throughout most of Michigan, our state will continue to struggle until we tackle the problems of our most violent cities. Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw are ranked among the top 10 most violent cities in the country according to FBI data. We all suffer the consequences.
Highlights of Snyder's special message include:
Kalamazoo Public Safety Town Hall
Secure Cities Partnership: The governor unveiled his Secure Cities Partnership initiative to support law enforcement efforts in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw and the roadways connecting them. The Michigan State Police will provide local assistance and coordinate teams of local, state and federal law enforcement officers to direct patrols and provide investigative resources. Snyder recommends that MSP receive an additional $15 million in FY 13 for two trooper recruit schools that will graduate 180 troopers to provide local agencies with the support they need. Because many communities can't afford to wait, the governor is advancing supplemental budget request to the Legislature so the first trooper school class can start in June.
Federal support: At the governor's request, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office will be active partners in the Secure Cities Partnership. The special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan will work with Michigan through the federal Safe Streets Initiative and direct resources at the most violent centers of activity within the four cities. Also, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan will provide enhanced prosecutorial support.
Economic Vitality Incentive Program: Snyder recommends that lawmakers put a priority on the expenditure of $10 million out of the total $25 million Economic Vitality Incentive Program, which promotes service consolidation and innovation among communities. The $10 million will be invested in local public safety.
Fire and first responders: Recognizing the critical role that firefighters and first responders have in public safety, Snyder is forming an advisory council that will recommend ways to provide better emergency services statewide with a long-term, sustainable cost model. This is especially important since arson is a growing problem. From 2008 - 2010, roughly 43 percent of arsons in the state were in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
Forensic labs: The governor recommends an additional $5 million in his FY 13 budget for the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division to support the hiring of 20 scientists. Additional staffing will help to reduce backlogs and achieve a case turnaround time of 30 days.
Enhanced parole supervision: Currently, 46 percent of all statewide parolees report to parole offices in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. The Michigan Department of Corrections will embed a parole officer into each of the local law enforcement agencies that covers these cities.
CLEAR recommendations: Snyder is tasking the Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention (CLEAR), which he created last year, to develop long-term solutions for a variety of public safety issues, including technology and establishing police agency training standards. Snyder also requests that CLEAR partner with key organizations to develop plans for a Neighborhood Crime Prevention Initiative that can be implemented statewide.
Next Generation 911: The governor is directing CLEAR to develop recommendations within six months for implementing Next Generation 911, which supports a wide range of technologies available on the average smart phone. For example, users will be able to send texts, photos and videos to dispatchers who can relay the information to emergency responders.
Flint jail space: Snyder is calling for an additional $4.5 million to ensure that Flint has adequate jail space to house offenders. This complements a 2011 partnership in which the governor and Legislature appropriated $ 1 million to open more jail space for the community.
Prosecutorial support: The governor recommends an investment of $900,000 for prosecutorial support in distressed cities, which a particular focus on Flint.
Intelligence centers: Snyder will issue an executive order designating the Detroit Southeast Michigan Information and Intelligence Center as a node of the Michigan Intelligence Operations Center. This improves information sharing across all law enforcement agencies and supports evidence-based policing strategies, which helps police predict where crime may occur.
Preliminary exam reform: Police too often are stuck in a courtroom waiting to see whether a preliminary exam goes forward, rather than being out protecting the public. Snyder is directing CLEAR to develop reforms requiring preliminary exam conferences in which the prosecutor, defendant and defense attorney can discuss the charges and possible plea negotiations.
Mental health courts: Mental health courts are the best resource available to provide treatment to mentally ill people who break the law. They can require individuals to comply with treatment, which may keep them from committing crimes. Snyder recommends the state invest $2.1 million to continue the eight pilot mental health courts and create a new one in Saginaw.
Drug courts: Drug treatment courts address the revolving-door cycle in which drug and alcohol offenders move in and out of the justice system. Snyder proposes a legislative appropriation of $1.25 million to create a high-risk, high-need drug court initiative that expands drug court programming in Genesee, Wayne, Oakland and Saginaw counties.
Designer drugs: Snyder supports House Bill 5338 and Senate Bill 789 that will allow the Michigan Department of Community Health director to declare a substance as an "imminent danger to the public."
Sexual assault and domestic violence: Snyder will issue an executive order designating the Michigan Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Board as the Michigan Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board. In addition, the current board is working with law enforcement and health professionals to update Michigan's sexual assault evidence kit for the first time in over 20 years.
Organized retail crime: This is sophisticated theft and fraud conducted by professionals. The stolen products are fenced for cash or drugs, which are then used to finance other criminal activities. Snyder will work with lawmakers to target these crimes through statutory changes.
Human trafficking: Current Michigan law does not adequately address the problem of human trafficking, which often victimizes children. The governor will support legislation that protects victims and goes after the individuals who profit from this crime.
Senior protection: The abuse of senior citizens is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Michigan. The Senate has passed a package of bills (S.B.s 454-468) to increase coordination between local and state authorities to expedite investigations, create tougher penalties and implement guardianship reforms. Snyder urges the House to pass the legislation.
Prescription drug trafficking: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) maintains a system for monitoring controlled substances dispensed by prescribers. Snyder on Tuesday signed H.B. 4369, sponsored by state Rep. Lesia Liss, which allows LARA to provide health insurance carriers with the same limited level of data access that law enforcement receives. This helps health providers to identity individuals who are chronically misusing controlled substances. The bill is now Public Act 44 of 2012.
Community Ventures: The Michigan Economic Development Corp. will launch the Community Ventures initiative, a public-private nonprofit partnership that will hire at least 1,000 structurally unemployed residents from distressed neighborhoods. Initially, it will focus on Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
New paths for young people: To help teens from urban areas realize that promising opportunities exist, the governor recommends that $5 million in the FY 13 budget be used to support programs for teens in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will partner with organizations in these cities and help teens discover what it's like to help "green" their communities or do a fish survey. This will be a public-private partnership that helps teens benefit from mentorship and the pride of gaining new skills.
Removing abandoned buildings: Abandoned buildings often are havens for illegal activity. Wayne County lists nearly 10,000 tax foreclosed properties for auction, primarily in Detroit. Many of these are occupied by criminal operations or simply held by speculators willing to perpetuate community blight in the hope of personal financial gain. The governor proposes a change in state law to forbid individuals with unpaid taxes or who own blighted properties from buying any more property at auction. Also, the governor has identified $3 million in the state Land Reutilization Fund that will be used to clear title on tax-reverted properties in Detroit.
Truancy: The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) will place more social workers within the 135 public schools in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. In addition, the governor is directing DHS to require regular school attendance as a condition of temporary cash assistance eligibility. Current policy only requires school attendance for 16 - 18 year olds, which misses our youngest and most vulnerable kids. Snyder wants the policy extended to cover all school-age children. Michigan should join the 29 other states that do this.
Prisoner re-entry: Inmates who will rejoin society must be equipped with skills so they have alternatives to crime. Michigan's prisoner re-entry program has been a major contributor to lower recidivism rates. However, it emphasizes programming and treatment as prisoners near the completion of their sentences. The Michigan Department of Corrections will improve the program with a goal of beginning the process sooner and reducing recidivism rates.