Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard speaks with 7 News Detroit in wake of recent violent incidents

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 02, 2024

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) —  Metro Detroit has been hit with a string of violent incidents, from Oakland County Deputy Brad Reckling being killed in the line of duty to the mass shooting at a splash pad in Rochester which critically injured a boy.

So now as we get into the heart of summer, I sat down with Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard to get his thoughts on where we go from here and how we stop the violence.

Every year in Michigan nearly 1,406 people die from gun violence and we have the 28th highest rate of gun deaths in America. Here recently we have been dealt major blows that leave lasting and horrific memories in our community.

I sat with Sheriff Bouchard to get his take on the recent bloodshed in his backyard. He took us back to 2017 and the death of Deputy Eric Overall who was tragically run over by a car.

RELATED STORY: Son of fallen Oakland Co. Deputy Eric Overall speaks a year after dad's death

Son of fallen Oakland Co. Deputy Eric Overall speaks a year after dad's death

“It's a loss that doesn't go away especially if you're family friends or the agency where that person came from and COVID only made matters worse in terms of community violence,” Bouchard says. “It was already burning we got a flame thrower and hit the house and then threw some gasoline on COVID because we've seen the tension rise on ordinary calls, neighbor against neighbor, they just escalate into violence.”

More recently he was on the frontline of the Oxford High School and MSU shootings that left the safety net of Spartan Nation and the Oxford community shattered.

“A lot of people talk about healing the families of Oxford I don't think they will ever heal they have to have a process to be able to go forward and all of us need a process to deal with tragedy,” Bouchard says.

Now with the splash pad mass shooting in Rochester followed by the death of Deputy Brad Reckling, he is trying to exhale.

“I can't fill that emotional hole that dad hole. Again it’s a craterous hole for them when I'm trying to.. what I can do is knock down some of the financial concerns, so that's at least one thing off of her plate,” Bouchard says.

In 1999 when he first took office 8-13% of jail inmates had mental health issues. it's now 80 percent.

“That's the number one crisis in America,” says Bouchard. “That's one of our biggest calls every day is a mental health crisis. That's a failing I think of our government that we need a more robust mental health system.”

Bouchard also worries the suicide rate among officers will outpace those killed in the line of duty.

Gun legislation is one solution, but Bouchard believes the laws already on the books must be enforced.

“The MSU shooter should have never been in a position to buy a gun had we been fully utilizing felony firearm prosecuting and putting felony convictions on people's record,” Bouchard says. “If you don't enforce laws vigorously and there's not a penalty to be paid for carrying and using a gun illegally people continue to do it.”

Bouchard also believes we all have a responsibility if we see something say something.

Despite the growing death toll ...

“When you see the worst of humanity, you see the best, you see someone say, 'I need to go help, I don't know what it is but I’m going,'” Bouchard says.