Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s new public safety plan, which is slated for the 2013 fiscal year, attempts to reduce crime in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw – cities with the highest crime rates in Michigan. Public safety is an important issue for any state, and efforts to improve public safety shouldn’t be limited to the most dangerous cities. Michigan lawmakers should increase funding to other municipalities and local governments that have been forced to cut important local public safety services.

Snyder’s proposal would add 180 state police troopers and 20 forensic scientists, expand drug and mental health courts in Michigan and re-open the city jail in Flint. The plan allocates $15 million for two trooper recruit schools, $5 million for forensics, $1.2 million for drug courts, $2.1 million for mental health courts and $4.5 million for additional jail space in Flint.

While the plan is likely to help Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw, other cities in Michigan also need assistance to reduce crime. Ann Arbor and the University have felt the negative effects of fewer police officers. In June alone, 20 positions in fire and police departments were eliminated due to city budget cuts. Since then, crime alerts from both city and University police have caused concern in Ann Arbor. Recently, police issued a warning after an unusual upswing in home invasions.

Many other cities across the country are also feeling the sting of a reduced police presence. NPR’s This American Life reported that 103 police officers were laid off in Trenton, N.J. in September. From January 2011 to January 2012, gun assaults in Trenton rose 76 percent, robberies with a firearm rose 55 percent, car thefts more than doubled and break-ins more than tripled. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, calls these cuts “the new reality,” but when this reality threatens the residents of many cities across the country, it’s not worth the savings in any budget. Cities in Michigan shouldn’t have to suffer the same fate as Trenton.

Lawmakers should take several important steps to help all municipalities and local governments in Michigan in their efforts to reduce crime. For starters, they should enact Attorney General Bill Schuette’s plan, which calls for 1,000 additional police officers for the entire state. While state troopers are an improvement, local police officers are better acquainted with the areas they serve. Lawmakers should also pass harm reduction measures to preemptively reduce crime instead of overfilling our jails and imposing too many taxes on Michigan residents as a result of an inflated corrections budget.

Additional police officers can make the streets in Michigan safer without the assistance of the National Guard or other unnecessary forces. While crime reduction in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, and Saginaw would be welcomed, lawmakers must work to fix the problem everywhere.

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