Crime decreases in Muskegon Hts.; residents want more progress

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police report a declining crime rate in Muskegon Heights where they’ve teamed up with the local police department.

While state police tell 24 Hour News 8 that the overall crime rate fell 20 percent between 2015 and 2016, residents are skeptical to praise the progress.

“A lot of jobs have left,” said Muskegon Heights resident Glenn Jones. “The economy is just all torn up here.”

Jones has lived in Muskegon Heights for about 15 years and believes the economy, the high volume of abandoned buildings and vacant lots are a big part of the slow-declining crime rate.

“You take away the economy, you take away the schools, you take away all the constructive things that kids can do [and] there’s nothing but trouble for them to get into,” Jones told 24 Hour News 8.

MSP began a joint effort with police in Muskegon Heights back in 2015.

Jones said he’s noticed more state troopers in the area over the last year or so, but hasn’t noticed much more than that.

He’s said that he’s been assaulted in front of his house and that his house and his mom’s house have both been broken into. Now, he’s hesitant to send his 8-year-old son to the bus stop alone.

John Thomas, owner of JT’s Starting Line Up Barber Shop, has worked faithfully at his business on West Broadway Avenue for more than 15 years.

“I still see crime every day,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

However, Thomas recalled a much different city years ago. He said that once businesses packed up and left the area, crime moved in.

Thomas wants to see more progress when it comes to violent crimes in the city, and he’s holding out faith that it can happen.

“I [have] been here when it was great and I think it will get back that again one day if we all help and work together,” Thomas said.

MSP also started working with the Benton Harbor Police Department in 2015.

According to MSP, that area saw a 25 percent decrease in violent crimes and a 40 percent reduction in robberies between 2015 and 2016.