Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.
Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall. Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”
Troopers have been involved in two fatal accidents linked to police pursuits in the city in the past month. In one accident, a woman died when the car she was riding in collided with a vehicle fleeing from a state trooper. In another accident, a woman died when her car was struck by a state trooper pursuing another vehicle. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the second victim’s family against the state trooper and the Michigan State Police.
Davis says the recent fatalities are just part of the problem created by bringing in Michigan State Police to help Flint with its crime problem.
“It’s getting worse because they don’t have the aptitude, nor do they have the competency, to be able to run through urban communities and residential areas which they are not familiar with,” says Davis.
About 40 Michigan State Police troopers assist the Flint police department on a daily basis. They perform mainly patrol and investigation functions.
Flint Police Chief James Tolbert calls the recent fatalities “tragic." But he says the state troopers are “integral” to Flint law enforcement.
“We have a duty to try to enforce (the law),” says Tolbert. “Unfortunately these things happen.”
Last week, Flint’s mayor and emergency manager met with a group of local pastors to address concerns raised by state troopers patrolling city streets.
City councilman Wantwaz Davis says he would like to see the money being spent to have state troopers assigned to Flint to instead spent on rehiring Flint police officers who’ve been laid off in recent years. That appears unlikely.
The city is looking at trimming its already depleted police department even more this year. That may mean the city’s reliance on the Michigan State Police will continue to grow.