Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today introduced legislation in Congress aimed at reducing violent crime in cities like Flint and Saginaw as well as investing in programs that help youth to find summer employment that is linked to their school work or career focus. The two bills focus on additional law enforcement on the streets and addressing the lack of employment opportunities for youth, which is a systemic driver of violence.
Congressman Kildee's two pieces of legislation are:
The Help Communities Fight Violent Crime Act, which would provide an additional $25 million a year in funding for the next five years for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to conduct "surge" programs to root out criminals and violent crime. In years past, ATF conducted successful surge operations in Flint, where federal law enforcement would coordinate intelligence operations, partner with local and state law enforcement, and provide additional personnel on-the-ground. In 2012, such a surge reduced Flint's homicide rate by over 50 percent during the time it was active.
The Empowering Youth Through Summer Employment Act, which would invest $50 million annually for five years to help expand summer youth employment programs, returning the program to funding levels under the George W. Bush Administration. Under the legislation, federal grants would be awarded to states to fund community programs that give young adults opportunities for summer employment that is directly linked to academic or occupational learning. This program, which has previously had bipartisan support, would employ youth to help with recovery efforts in Flint and clean up state parks.
"We can increase opportunity for Michigan families by making our neighborhoods safer and ensuring that youth have summer employment opportunities," Congressman Kildee said. "Targeted law enforcement surge programs have a proven track record of getting criminals and illegal guns off of the streets. Additionally, making sure youth have summer jobs allows them to be productive and gain life skills that prepare them for good-paying jobs in our community," said Congressman Kildee. "Together, these bills will not only reduce crime in cities like Flint and Saginaw, but also provide youth the job skills necessary to end the destructive cycle of violence."
The bills are part of Congressman Kildee's continued efforts to increase opportunities for youth in his district and reduce violent crime. Congressman Kildee previously introduced similar versions of these bills in February 2014. Since 2013, he has served as an honorary host of Priority Children's annual Summer Youth Expo to help kids and young adults fill their summers with activities that help them exercise, get job training and serve their community. Additionally, Congressman Kildee has worked on several initiatives to boost mentoring programs. In January 2015, he helped launch the mid-Michigan Mentoring Challenge to encourage more local-area residents to become mentors for at-risk youth.