Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 1, 2014

Michigan in Brief: 01/01/2014

ED WHITE Associated Press
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — State defends rejection of ‘WAR SUX’ plate

DETROIT — The state of Michigan is defending its rejection of an anti-war license plate, saying children riding in cars need to be protected from seeing “WAR SUX.”

Attorneys for the secretary of state’s office asked a judge this month to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses officials of violating the First Amendment by broadly controlling speech. David DeVarti, a Washtenaw County man, wanted the six-letter plate but was turned down.

In a recent filing in Grand Rapids federal court, the state, among other reasons, said the plate would be offensive to children who amuse themselves by reading plates on passing vehicles.

“And because vehicles often travel in residential neighborhoods, youth may be exposed to license plates from their yards or driveways,” said Ann Sherman, an assistant attorney general. “Courts have often upheld legislation aimed at protecting the physical and emotional well-being of youth, even where First Amendment rights are concerned.”

Wildlife officials:Wolf kill at 22

MARQUETTE — Michigan wildlife officials say the number of wolves killed in the Upper Peninsula during the state’s first wolf hunt in decades is at 22 on the final day of the hunt.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that’s the total as of Tuesday morning, unchanged from the previous day.

Five of the maximum 16 wolves were killed in the far western U.P., 14 of 19 in four central counties and three of eight in the eastern U.P.

The wolf hunting season opened on Nov. 15. Before the season, the DNR estimated that Michigan had 658 wolves.

Police: Wolf hit, killedby vehicle in U.P.

ESCANABA — Police in the Upper Peninsula say a wolf was struck and killed by a vehicle near Escanaba.

The Daily Press reported the roughly 130-pound animal was hit Monday near the Escanaba city limits while it was apparently trying to cross a road.

Police said the driver of the vehicle had minor injuries. The dead wolf was turned over to Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Homicides downin Flint, Detroit

DETROIT — Detroit and Flint set their lowest homicide numbers in years.

As of Tuesday morning, 332 criminal homicides were reported in Detroit compared with 384 at the same time last year, according to Sgt. Michael Woody.

The city had 386 homicides in all of 2012 and 344 the year before. The police department reported 308 in 2010 and 364 homicides in 2009.

The city distinguishes criminal homicides, in which charges are or can be filed, from justifiable homicides.

“Keep in mind that while everybody is focused on numbers, to us these numbers are real people. These numbers represent lives that have been saved or spared from gunfire,” Woody said Tuesday. “One homicide, one loss of life is one too many.”

Detroit has one of the highest murder and violent crime rates in the country, but an increased focus on fighting street crime and monitoring crime hotspots has contributed to police success in bringing those numbers down.

Chief James Craig revamped the department’s command staff and implemented a gang intelligence surveillance unit, vice squad and a 24-hour detective desk.

Violent and property-related crimes also are down.

In November, the city had a streak of more than 36 hours where no homicides or non-fatal shootings were reported. That came just weeks after three men were shot and killed and six others wounded in a gambling room in a Detroit barbershop.

The day after the barbershop shootings, a 23-year-old pregnant woman and a 25-year-old man were shot to death, and a 75-year-old man was critically wounded outside a Detroit home. The dead woman’s baby, which was delivered by cesarean section, later died.

“Although we are excited to see the numbers decline, we recognize that our fight has only just begun,” Woody said. “There is much work to be done and we are looking forward to a collaborative effort between our citizens, our community organizations and clergy members in 2014 to help us drive the violence down even further.”

Flint, about 50 miles northwest of Detroit, reported 52 homicides as of Monday. The city had a record high of 67 in 2012, according to The Flint Journal.

The presence of about 40 state police troopers either patrolling Flint streets or working in the detective bureau has helped, said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

There were 66 homicides committed in Flint in 2010 and 57 the following year.