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Not enough cops but plenty of would-be mayors Tom Basinski | Sat, Jun 18 2011 12:00 PM

I am in Flint, Mich., my hometown, or as a New York Times reporter who recently rode on patrol with a Flint cop called it: "Murdertown, U.S.A."

To give some perspective, in 2010, San Diego with its million-plus population had 29 homicides. Flint, with 102,000 people had 66 homicides. That population number is accurate if you don't count the latest rush of departing U-Haul trucks.

One weekend last month Flint had four separate unrelated murders. Flint doesn't have four homicide teams. I can't imagine how they handled the killings. This past weekend they had four separate shootings, with only one being fatal. On non-fatal shootings often the newspaper story will be, "The victim went to Hurley Hospital, but refused to answer questions from police about the shooting." That's what they're up against here.

Frequently the police scanner will broadcast a location where several shots were fired, followed by the dispatcher announcing there are no units to send. The police department will then wait for a caller to call in if someone has been hit. Only then will they break a car loose to respond.

Forty-six Flint cops have been laid off in the past year. The most junior patrol officer has about 16 years on the job. I can imagine what the foot chases are like with an old beat cop chasing a would-be track star.

Seven candidates just threw their hats in the ring to run in Flint's next mayoral race. When Bonnie Dumanis decided to run for San Diego mayor I asked her, "Why?"

To Flint's candidates I ask, "Why, to the 10th power?"

Flint is in danger of going bankrupt and being taken over by the state. With no tax base and no money coming in, how could any mayoral candidate think they would make a difference no matter what people skills they might claim to possess?

Flint's school board is in shambles, loaded with incompetents. But at least the school superintendent is not corrupt and arrogant.

I don't know if Flint's voters will say "adios" to the school board when their terms are up like should happen with all except one school board member familiar to us in the South Bay.

Although I was raised in Flint, we now live in the community of Clio, five miles north of Flint. Clio has about 5,000 law abiding citizens. I can walk downtown to the supermarket and it takes a while to shop because you always see someone you know.

I go to Flint frequently. Flint's downtown is trying to make a comeback, but it's slow. Downtown Flint has a nice hat shop and pipe and cigar shop along with a few good restaurants and bars that I do my best to support.

Flint had a rich history of well-known athletes, entertainers and celebrities (I don't count filmmaker Michael Moore, although that overfed entrepreneur is probably the most well known). Many of the General Motors cars your parents drove were made in Flint.

Today I compare Flint to a great athlete who struggled well past his prime. Joe Louis, Willie Mays, John Unitas and Joe Namath come to mind. Unlike an athlete whose skills are gone for good, Flint could make a comeback. I just hope it does.

* * * 

Longtime South Bay prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Marty Martins, now retired, won second place in this year's San Diego Book Awards. Marty's book, "The Blizzard" is a young adult novel. It is fast-moving, interesting and weaves a moral thread throughout. A good read. Congrats, Marty. Look for it on Amazon.

Basinski is a retired police officer who lives in Chula Vista and Clio, Michigan.

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Bob Krumweide Says:

Wed, Jun 22 2011 07:10 AM

I find Tom Basinski's articles very informative and entertaining......keep them coming.


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