Flint, Mich. — I joined the Flint, Mich., police force nearly 20 years ago because I believed I could make a difference. Police officers are problem solvers. But sometimes it seems as if the problems have no end. How can a city fall so far that we lose sight of the possibility of solutions?
In recent years here in Flint, we have been asked to do more with less. Our wages and benefits have been cut by more than a quarter since 2011. Because of budget issues, many of us have been laid off and rehired multiple times (for me, it was three times in six years). We used to number roughly 300 police officers; now there are only around 100. Nationwide, there is an average of three police officers for every 1,000 citizens; in Flint, it’s half an officer for every 1,000 citizens.In one of America’s most dangerous cities, the people who secure the city are less secure than they’ve ever been. Yet we continue serving, as we did through the loss of General Motors, through the crack cocaine epidemic and, most recently, through the mass lead poisoning of Flint citizens.