Whitmer’s ‘Crackdown on Crime’ is Keeping Illegal Guns Off the Streets

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference in 2022. (Governor Gretchen Whitmer via Facebook)

By Kyle Kaminski

August 29, 2023

A statewide gun violence prevention program is keeping hundreds of illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. And the latest state budget marked the single largest investment in public safety since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took office.

MICHIGAN—More than 450 illegal guns (and plenty of drugs and ammo) have been taken off the streets as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Operation Safe Neighborhoods” plan to help curb rising rates of gun violence, state officials announced in a press release this week. 

All told, authorities have now had more than 4,100 check-ins with felony offenders since September—and seized a total of at least 450 illegal guns along the way, officials said. 

“As a former prosecutor, protecting public safety is a top priority,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Michigan is home to roughly 32,000 probationers and 8,500 parolees—of which, about 20% have been convicted of a gun crime, officials said. The goal of Operation Safe Neighborhoods is to enable more law enforcement officers to keep a closer eye on those who have previous weapon charges, who have since been deemed “high-risk” for committing additional crimes.

The “statewide crackdown on crime,” as state officials have described the program, was wrapped into Whitmer’s $75 million “MI Safe Communities” plan, which was approved by the legislature last summer. The program was funded, in part, by federal cash that was allocated to Michigan as part of the American Rescue Plan to help reduce crime in local communities.

Other components of that state’s public safety plan included investing more cash into local police departments—specifically for training, and to foster more collaboration with the State Police. It also delivered $50 million in hazard pay to local officers and other first responders.

More Public Safety Funding En Route

Whitmer’s administration has invested more than $1.5 billion into public safety programs since the governor took office in 2019. The latest state budget also includes the single largest investment in public safety to date, including $500 million geared toward keeping local communities safe from gun violence—including dedicated resources to help hire, train, and retain local first responders. 

More specifically, the latest budget includes nearly $172 million in public safety grants for local communities across Michigan, as well another $18 million to provide training for local cops. The budget also included upgrades to public safety facilities and equipment across Michigan, and additional funding to launch new gun violence prevention policies and programs this year.

A supplemental budget bill recently signed by Whitmer also includes about $11 million geared toward helping communities continue to address gun violence for themselves. Most of that cash—about $8 million—will go out in grants to existing programs that are already in place.

About $2 million will also go toward distributing trigger locks and gun safety boxes, as well as outreach materials on suicide prevention and other gun violence prevention programs. And $800,000 will create a new Office of Community Violence Intervention Services to support coordinated violence prevention efforts, including more grant funding in local communities. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will award the grant funding.

“We must listen to our community leaders about what works in preventing violence,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “We also must provide them with the support they need to continue to make a difference. Gun violence and other types of violence are a threat to public health, but we can work together on prevention and assisting people who are affected.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have taken their own steps to mitigate gun violence in Michigan, including a sweeping set of reforms that enacted new red flag laws, as well as requirements for safe gun storage and universal background checks. Whitmer signed those bills into law in April.

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature are also still looking for more ways to help curb gun violence this fall—including new laws to keep guns out of the hands of violent domestic abusers.

“We will keep working together to reduce gun violence and save lives,” Whitmer said. 

READ MORE: Lawmakers Eye Bills to Protect Abuse Survivors and Prevent Suicide

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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