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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 18-24

This week, readers sent us comments about crime rates in Flint, Mich., and benefit cuts for seniors.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Credit Troopers for Decline in Flint Crime

Hello, I would like to comment on your article [“Biden’s Flint Fiasco, Continued,” Oct. 23] about Joe Biden and his claims about crime rates in Flint, Michigan.

I am NOT a Democrat nor am I a Democrat supporter — but you haven’t correctly reported the ENTIRE situation in Flint, Michigan with regard to Joe Biden’s comments about crime rates.

What you have failed to take into consideration — when claiming that the crime rates have dropped while the number of Flint police officers has also declined — is that when Flint, Michigan began to collapse financially, the Michigan State Police reassigned an entire detachment of State Troopers to patrol the City of Flint. That was their sole responsibility, investigate crimes in the City of Flint. I am a retired state trooper and have worked on such details. When troopers are assigned to a city with a horrible crime rate, we go in in force and all patrols have two troopers to each patrol car. With two troopers in each car, the troopers are very aggressive in targeting criminals. Traffic stops go up exponentially and traffic stops lead to solving crimes. To the general public you may not believe that but in my 26 years as a police officer, including four years as a city cop, traffic stops are one of the most effective methods of identifying criminals. People who commit crimes drive cars and when they are stopped, they often have evidence of their crimes in their cars. A state trooper’s training in Michigan is more than double that of municipal officers. The state police academy is a residential academy — meaning that recruits live at the academy — and the typical length of a recruit school is about six months. It is tough and thorough training, including extensive training to investigate crimes. Because of the massive presence of state troopers in Flint, the crime rate has declined. THAT is the reason for the decline in crime.

Please correct the record. Without the city police force, crime would be through the roof. I know, I’ve worked in Flint and two of my cousins were Flint police officers.

Thank you!

Robert W. Mendham
Petoskey, Mich.

FactCheck.org responds: Michigan State Police has increased its trooper presence in Flint this year. But that did not happen until late June, so the drop in crime in the first six months of this year cannot be attributed to an increased trooper presence. In an email, State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner told us, “Our current commitment to the city is four squads of troopers (4 sergeants and 20 troopers), which is double what it was previously. This began on June 24, 2011.” Spokeswoman Tiffany Brown also told us that the State Police briefly increased the number of troopers assigned to the city in 2010. Brown said the Michigan State Police “tripled its uniform presence in the city beginning on May 26, 2010 for 7-10 days, in response to the mayor’s request for assistance.”


Different Languages

Sometimes I think you and I do not speak the same language [“A ‘Risky’ Trio for Seniors?,” Oct. 20]. It seems to me there are only three possibilities:

  1. The Republicans want to increase Social Security and Medicare benefits.
  2. The Republicans want to leave Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.
  3. The Republicans want to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits.

It doesn’t matter if the cuts are in the future, if they consist of raising the retirement age or replacing Medicare with a voucher system that would cost seniors much more, or privatizing Social Security. It’s either 1, 2 or 3.

The answer is clear.

Len Charlap
Princeton, N.J.