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Safe Summer program aims to curb gun violence across West Michigan

Mark Totten
Mark Totten

The U.S Attorney for the Western District of Michigan along with state, local and tribal law enforcement launched a new initiative, Thursday, aimed at curbing gun violence over the summer.

The initiative will focus on areas within the Western District of Michigan that have some of the highest rates of gun violence including Kentwood, Wyoming, Muskegon and Grand Rapids.

At a press conference in Grand Rapids, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said that under the program his office is prepared to federally prosecute offenders who illegally possess crime guns. He said that includes firearms that have been linked to prior shootings through ballistic evidence.

“To be clear, I understand that we will never prosecute our way out of the gun violence epidemic, the problem we face here, and in many cities across Michigan, has many dimensions to it, the solution really requires all hands on deck,” he said. Totten said prevention programs with wrap-around services are critical and pointed to the city of Grand Rapids’ Cure Violence Program, as an important piece of the solution. He also noted that gun violence has a disproportionate impact on people of color.

“The trauma that gun violence inflicts on a community really cannot be overstated, no family, no child, no person should have to worry about walking around their neighborhood because of a fear of gun violence and no mother should ever have to bury her child who has been stolen away by a bullet,” Totten said.

Totten added that his office will play their part to try to increase the deterrent for gun violence and hold people accountable for committing gun violence.

In a press release, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Wintrom praised the initiative stating, “We’ve seen the devastation the escalation of gun violence can do to individuals, families, and our community…we welcome this effort to bring the potential of federal charges to the table when possible.”

The Safe Summer program will run through the end of September.

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