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New Oakland County prosecutor shares concerns on rate of murders, unreported child abuse

Prosecutor Karen McDonald believes COVID-19 pandemic may be a factor

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – About 20 to 25 murder cases are reported a year in Oakland County, said Karen McDonald, the new county prosecutor. But there have been seven reported since December.

“If this trend continues, we are looking at a large amount of homicides,” McDonald said.

In her first sit down interview since being elected, McDonald sat down with the Local 4 Defenders to talk about crime, keeping children safe and changing how juveniles are sentenced.

Crime have happened all over the county, such as in Southfield where a man was shot and killed in his driveway and his truck stolen, to Walled Lake where a 45-year-old man was charged with stabbing and killing his roommate inside their condo, and in Holly where a man was charged with child abuse and torture after a 3-year-old died.

“I absolutely think it is COVID related,” McDonald said. “We have people who are isolated, unemployed, have a strong feeling of hopelessness, and that is absolutely contributing to violent crime.”

READ: Clawson police investigating first murder in city since 2004, officials say

McDonald is also concerned about the 50% decrease in reported child abuse and neglect cases.

“As a mother, this is very concerning,” she said. “We don’t have referrals from teachers or counselors or the school secretaries. We don’t have referral from coaches because they are not playing sports.”

McDonald is implementing new changes -- bringing back the canine advocacy program, which trained dogs are allowed to be with children to provide comfort when they are testifying on the stand. She also plans to reform how juveniles and low-level crimes are charged.

“We are trying not to incarcerate individuals that are not a public safety threat for a variety of reasons,” she said. “I think the county is going to be really pleased and excited to see some of the reforms that are taking place in this office.”

McDonald said she still believes Oakland County is one of the safest places to live, but thinks its important for the public to recognize the impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of citizens and children.


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