Preventing gun violence in Benton Harbor with new Safe Summer 2023 initiative

Updated: May. 25, 2023 at 6:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) -There’s nothing that puts a halt to the joy that comes with warm weather quite like the sound of shots fired.

That’s what law enforcement in the Benton Harbor area is hoping to prevent with the help of the US Attorney’s Office through the new Safe Summer 2023 initiative.

As the temps rise, so does the risk of getting federal charges for anyone who’s holding a gun that’s been used in a previous crime. This collaboration between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies is also getting some noticeable help from another important group in this matter, the people who live in Benton Harbor.

“We need to better educate our youth and gain the trust of our citizens to cooperate with law enforcement in these investigations,” said Benton Charter Township Detective Mike DenDoovan.

Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis says that’s already happening, and they’re seeing results.

“Over the past year, we’ve been having citizens cooperate and calling in tips and that’s led directly to quick and expeditious arrests, especially with violent offenders...I think people are finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. I also think the spiritual component has helped. I think we got into that here now. But, I think all those things have had an effect on the area,” McGinnis said.

However, Safe Summer 2023 looks to go even further to prevent gun violence in the first place.

“My office will prosecute all offenders who illegally possess crime guns. That is guns or firearms that are linked to prior crimes through ballistic evidence,” said US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten.

This extra attention on prosecuting these types of crimes comes with more prosecutors to handle the additional caseload expected from this initiative.

“As needed, we’ll be willing to pull in prosecutors from other divisions, even outside violent crime, to prosecute the additional cases we anticipate,” Totten said.

This was just the first stop for Totten on Thursday as he made his way to some of the other communities that will be adopting Safe Summer 2023. That includes Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon, and Muskegon Heights.