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Whitmer: Operation Safe Neighborhoods removing illegal guns in Michigan

Martin Muransky/martin33 - stock.adobe.com

Operation Safe Neighborhoods has removed almost 400 illegal guns from the homes of people on probation and parole, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and law enforcement leaders announced in Detroit on Tuesday.

Operation Safe Neighborhoods puts Michigan Department of Corrections agents in local police precincts. They conduct enhanced check-ins on people they’re supervising, and remove any guns they find from those homes.

Whitmer said since the program launched less than a year ago, police officers have conducted nearly 3,400 check-ins and taken 389 illegal firearms, as well as illegal drugs and ammunition. She said the initiative will be even more important in the coming months.

“As we enter the summer, when historical trends suggest that gun violence increases, initiatives like this one, like Operation Safe Neighborhoods, are critical,” Whitmer said.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan agreed. “We're ultimately going to be tested not by the promises that we make, but by what you see happen this summer,” he said. “If the system works the way it should, we should see significant reductions in gun violence this summer.”

Operation Safe Neighborhoods is a statewide program, but Detroit has been a particular focus. Probation and parole agents have been embedded in every police precinct in the city.

Detroit Police Chief James White said it’s a cooperative effort to take guns out of the wrong hands — including those of children. “Children that we've seen hurt themselves with those weapons, and also those folks who use weapons to resolve relatively simple disputes, making life-changing decisions impulsively,” he said.

According to state data, one in three violent crimes in Michigan involves a firearm. The state has roughly 32,000 probationers and 8,500 parolees, with 20% previously convicted of a gun crime.

Whitmer also highlighted larger efforts to fight gun violence. She said since taking office in 2019, her administration has invested more than $1 billion in various public safety initiatives.

Whitmer also recently signed legislation that she said “has the support of the vast majority of Michiganders,” mandating safe storage requirements and universal background checks for gun purchases.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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