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New crime stats show Grand Rapids murder rate at 50 year low

Peter Martin Hall
Creative Commons

In an average year, 17 people get murdered in Grand Rapids. Six is way low, lower than it’s been in 50 years.

Grand Rapids Police Lieutenant Pat Merrill says there was only one bank robbery, when 8 to 10, even up to 20 is normal. “One is unbelievably low. It is anomalous,” Merrill said.

A new crime report to be released next week shows a jump in the number of stolen cars and a major drop in the number of bank robberies. Violent crime was steady, Merrill said.

The six murders do not include manslaughter or justifyable homicide, by federal guidelines, Merrill said.

None of the murders last year were a result of gunshots. In two of the cases the suspects were female, which Merrilll says is very unusual.

“There’s a lot of people in 2014 who could’ve easily died and they simply didn’t. But the shootings unfortunately are still happening,” he said.

In some cases people didn’t die because a shooter had bad aim or because of medical advances.

“That significantly impacts our murder rate because you have a lot of people that are shot that don’t die today that would have died 20 years ago,” he said.

In the early 1990s, gang violence was a major problem, causing the murder rate to peak in 1993 at 34. In 2011, one man killed seven people in one day before committing suicide. And in the winter of 2012-13, a string of murders left 9 people dead in about thirty days. That brought the community together to urge people to end the killing spree.

“We’re certainly not celebrating the death of six people but you’ve got to appreciate where you are and hopefully, hopefully you’re creating momentum to move in a direction and that direction hopefully is improvement,” Merrill said.

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s investigative reporter. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor and West Michigan Reporter.
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