The city of Flint is looking at ways to get illegal guns off the streets, either by seizing them or buying them.
Flint officials say the city has seen a 17% increase in violent crime this year over last year, including an increase in murders.
For Mayor Sheldon Neeley, the violence is close to home.
“There have been a few shootings on my street where I live,” Neeley told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s no fun not being able to sit out on my deck and worry about what might happen in my neighborhood.”
In response to the uptick in violent crime, the city is taking three steps:
- The Flint Police Department is forming an investigative unit to target criminals using illegal weapons.
- The city is planning a gun buy-back program.
- The city will move to fill 14 police department vacancies.
"We're going to be implementing a special investigating unit designed to get these illegal guns off the street," said Flint Police Chief Phil Hart, at a news conference on Tuesday.
The city is also teaming up with local pastors to reduce the violence. Some of the pastors on Tuesday admitted there may be concerns in the community when it comes to dealing with law enforcement.
Dr. Herbert Miller says he understands there are those who want to see less of a police presence in their communities.
“We understand there’s a need for reform,” says Miller. “But we also understand that people ought to be able to live in their community without feeling like their lives are at risk.”
While violent crime is up this year in Flint, city officials say overall crime in the city is down.