Initiative aiming to crack down on 'public disorder' in Benton Harbor

NOW: Initiative aiming to crack down on ’public disorder’ in Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- After what they call an influx of public disorder, Benton Harbor police have enlisted the help of state troopers to combat the increase in crime.

Officers say there have been large gatherings with drag racing and speeding, much of the time with rental cars, and most of it happening late at night and leading to violence.

“The scope of the Secure Cities [Initiative] is to reduce violent crimes, gun violence and get guns off the street,” said Dan McGinnis, Public Safety Director.

The Secure Cities Initiative provides Michigan State Police resources to designated communities. Benton Harbor has been one of them since 2015.

Starting Wednesday, MSP will dedicate six troopers to Benton Harbor everyday to help control recent public disorder, including the looting of the Phillips 66 on Pipestone Road in Benton Township and a deadly shooting at that same gas station one week later.

McGinnis said in a press release that these crowd – sometimes more than 100 people – drag race, play loud music, dance on top of cars and shoot guns in the air – reversing recent reductions in crime.

“Our statistics decline every year but it seems like since the start of the pandemic, people being home, we’ve seen an uptick in disorder in the community,” said McGinnis.

Even though residents will see increased police patrols, McGinnis said he hopes this is a short-term setback for the city and urges everyone to do their part to promote peace.

“We talk about Black Lives Matter,” said McGinnis. “Let black lives matter to other black folks. Let’s respect each other, let’s not kill each other.”

As of now, the presence of MSP troopers is supposed to last  a few weeks and they’ll focus on working with rental car companies, enforcing noise ordinances and issuing citations for large gatherings in violation of Gov. Whitmer’s executive order.

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