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Whitmer proposes $75 million public safety plan

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer offered some broad outlines Monday of plans to improve public safety. That’s as crime rates have increased in Michigan and across the country.

The plans include more and better police training, getting illegal guns off the street, and hiring more officers.

“There’s not one solution to this complex problem,” she said. “It’s going to take a comprehensive plan that addresses every part of this complicated equation.”

The governor says she’d also like to offer incentives for officers to live in the communities that employ them.

“We know that when police have relationships with the people they serve, that it is better and it is safer and it creates a safer, more conducive environment to avoiding conflict escalation,” she said.

A 1999 state law says residency rules cannot be a subject of collective bargaining, but is silent on incentives.

The governor presented her proposal at a community center in Detroit, where the city’s Interim Police Chief James White was on hand. He said no one thing will solve the crime problem.

“I recognize the fact that these are complex problems, so they’re going to require complex solutions,” he said. “This is not about some cliché of a war on drugs, a war on crime, a war on guns. They don’t work.”

The city’s former police chief, James Craig, resigned to pursue the Republican nomination for governor in next year’s election.

Whitmer wants to use $75 million in federal COVID-19 funds to pay for the plan.

Whitmer said a return to draconian police and sentencing practices enacted in the 1990s are not part of her plans. A sharp turn in the opposite direction has been an area of bipartisan agreement in Lansing.

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