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Five years ago, the northwest corner of University Ave. and Grand Traverse in Flint, Michigan was a place to avoid—unless you were looking for trouble. In the middle of a bleak, litter-strewn parking lot, surrounded by vacant yards and homes sagging in disrepair, sat a convenience store that neighbors still refer to as the “Stop and Rob”—a crime hotspot known for hold-ups and drug deals in a city the FBI ranked as one of the most dangerous in the country several years running.
Flint was in the throes of a financial and civic crisis; from 2005 to 2014, the ranks of the police department were cut by 60 percent, and people were leaving the city, in search of jobs and safety. Read full story