MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - With ever-shrinking budgets and less manpower, law enforcement departments in Muskegon County are forming an alliance that may eventually include the Michigan State Police helicopter that was grounded in Grand Rapids.
But before that chopper flies a single mission in Muskegon, MSP is taking some lessons learned after its aerial presence was shunned in Kent County.
"What we're trying to do right now is garner some support from our local politicians, if we're going to fly the helicopter in the area, [to] make sure everyone is on board with what we're doing," said MSP Lt. Chris McIntyre.
Regardless of the helicopter, MSP is joining forces with the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department and police departments in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights, following five unsolved homicides and a rash of gun violence that forced the agencies to pool their resources.
Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 that law enforcement is doing everything in their power to put an end to the violence.
"It's a case of, we're going to use whatever tools that we have in our tool belts, so to speak, in order to get to the bottom and get to the truth," Hilson said.
Another frustration that law enforcement is facing in Muskegon County is a code of silence that they say is occurring on the streets. When a crime occurs, no one is coming forward.
Law enforcement officials said they plan to better use the investigative subpoena process, which will essentially compel people to testify -- or face criminal prosecution. The Silent Observer program will also be revamped.
Despite being grounded in Grand Rapids, McIntyre said MSP's aerial presence served its purpose.
"We were very successful in Kent County, despite what the politicians may say," McIntyre said. "Our role as the aviation unit is to keep people on the ground safe."
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