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New state fund would offer aid to high-crime areas

a police squad car
Flickr user Scott Davidson/Flickr

Democratic legislators are proposing to use a portion of state sales tax revenue to create a $100 million fund to fight crime in Michigan’s most-violent communities.

The House Democratic sponsors of the plan say the proliferation of guns, pandemic-related stress and a breakdown in relationships between police departments and the communities they serve all contributed to an increase in violent crime.

“These dollars will go directly to those communities experiencing the highest crime rates in our state,” said House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) at a state Capitol press conference.

Democrats say the violent crime fund is a follow-up to earlier efforts to rein in violence, such as the new gun restrictions recently signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said more help from the state would be welcome.

“We recognize there’s a problem and we’re going to give cities the law enforcement resources to deal with it,” he said, arguing there’s a need to act proactively. “The point at which the individual wakes up in the morning and puts the gun under their shirt and heads out, we’ve lost.”

If the plan is adopted, the funds would be distributed based on Michigan State Police crime statistics. The funds could pay for more community policing, mental health services and detectives to solve crimes.

“In my district, a repeat theme is that we love our neighborhood police officers,” said Representative Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), “but what our residents are concerned about is that there is not enough of them to properly build those meaningful relationships in our community.”

“And so this legislation addresses that need for additional funding,” he said.

The plan would use sales tax revenue from the share that’s not sent to the School Aid Fund. It would only pay for new services and could not be used to backfill budget shortfalls.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.