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Biden Questions Whether Michigan City's Crime Could Rise Without Federal Help

Vice President Biden speaks to public safety officers at a fire department building to promote the American Jobs Act in Flint, Mich., on Oct. 12.AP

Vice President Biden suggested Wednesday that rapes and murders in at least one American city could rise if Congress does not pass a new spending bill to help local governments keep police jobs. 

The vice president discussed the relation between crime and police staffing during a stop in Flint, Mich., one of the most violent cities in America. Biden said anyone who doubts the correlation "need look no further than your city." 

"Let's look at the facts," Biden said. "In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes, just to pick two categories, climbed to 229. 

"In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers'll be this year for Flint if we don't rectify it," he said. 

Biden made the comments as part of an effort to talk up the Obama administration's $447 billion American Jobs Act, which stalled in the Senate Tuesday night. The package includes $5 billion for police and first responders. 

FBI statistics show that the number of law enforcement officers in Flint has sharply declined over the last few years, as Biden said. The number went from 201 in 2008 to 132 in 2010. If civilian employees are counted, the numbers are a bit closer to what Biden cited. 

The rise in violent crimes like murder and rape, however, was not as drastic as Biden suggested, according to FBI statistics. 

The FBI reported 32 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter and 103 cases of forcible rape in 2008. That's similar to what the Flint Police Department reported -- which were the exact numbers Biden cited Wednesday. 

But the FBI reported the number of murders at 53 in 2010, with the number of forcible rapes actually dropping to 92. According to the FBI, the Flint "metropolitan statistical area" -- which includes the surrounding county as well as the city -- recorded 225 forcible rapes in 2010. However, that would also mark a decrease from the 239 recorded in the broader area in 2008. 

A representative from Biden's office said the 229 number came from the Flint Police Department. 

Biden suggested the numbers could have been worse "had we not been able to get a little bit of help to you." 

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