Inkster teams with sheriff's office, volunteers to boost patrols
by Tony Briscoe
The Wayne County Sheriff's Office will partner with Inkster police in an effort to double patrols in the cash-strapped city, authorities announced Tuesday.
The Sheriff's Office will aiming to launch its Sheriff's Community Organized Urban Team program in Inkster in collaboration with neighborhood watch groups and block clubs. Volunteers will be trained in community policing techniques.
“It's a collaborative effort between Wayne County reserve unit, radio patrol and State Police, and it will double patrols,” Raphael Washington, Wayne County Sheriff's chief of police operations. “Inkster police are the first responders, but we'll be there for quality-of-life issues, and our mere presence will drive down crime.”
The Inkster Police Department has lost two thirds of its officers since 2011, leaving only 25. It has received help from regional and state law enforcement in the past year.
Wayne County and community patrols will start by Jan. 1, Washington said.
“Both (Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Michigan State Police) have been here, they'll just be involved in a bigger way,” Inkster Police Chief Hilton Napoleon said.
Washington and Wayne County Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar introduced the program last week to about seven groups and other residents at the city's community policing center.
“By working closely with residents and other stakeholders in the neighborhood, we can prevent crime and eliminate those quality-of-life problems that are eroding the peace and safety in our neighborhoods,” said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, brother of Hilton Napoleon, in a statement Tuesday.
Michigan State Police has been assisting the department for more than a year in shootings and homicide investigations. Wayne County Sheriff's Office conducted drug raids in Inkster this year, which has helped combat the prevalence of drug violence the city has seen since it lost its drug unit about three years ago.
“It means a whole lot to community safety,” Councilman Timothy Williams said. “It's a signal to the drug dealers that you can't come do that in here.”
Inkster resident Arthur Hudgens wasn't as welcoming. He said he'd rather see more hires of local officers before bringing in outside agencies.
“It's not so much about (the number of) police as much as it's about the community knowing their police,” Hudgens said. “And Inkster's Police Department is falling apart.”
The SCOUT program, initiated in 2010, has been implemented in several communities including Osborn and Rosedale Park in Detroit, and neighborhoods in Dearborn. SCOUT is funded until the end of the county's fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2014. In order for a community to qualify for the program, it needs to have 10 or more volunteers to patrol and a location for a base station with a volunteer operator. Volunteers are required to undergo four hours of training.
Ann Arbor police chief plans to ramp up traffic enforcement, do more proactive policing
by Ryan Stanton
Ann Arbor is the 29th safest community in the nation among cities in its population category, according to FBI crime statistics for last year.
A total of 212 cities are on that list, which means Ann Arbor is meeting its goal of being among the safest 20 percent of communities.
Meanwhile, a new survey shows community perception of safety remains high.
Those successes were shared with Ann Arbor City Council members during their annual budget retreat Monday night , as Police Chief John Seto gave an update on ongoing efforts to do more proactive policing in the city.
"The officers are doing a spectacular job as far as going out there and being responsive, but I have to do my part in establishing speciality assignments and also reallocating some of the staffing," Seto told council members.
Council members indicated that public safety will remain a top priority as they work out the city's budget for the coming fiscal year between now and May.
They're specifically interested in seeing an increase in traffic enforcement to ensure pedestrian safety, including at crosswalks, and the chief is responding.
There were no heated discussions Monday night about increasing staffing in the police department, though that's still a personal goal of some on council.
Seto openly stated in March that his department had inadequate resources to do proactive and consistent enforcement and community outreach. One of the city's stated goals is to have a more proactive police department.
The City Council voted 6-5 against a proposal to increase staffing in the police department from 146 to 149 full-time employees in May.
But working with the resources he's been given, Seto has made some changes to be more proactive, and more changes are on the way in 2014.
Since Jan. 1, all uniformed patrol officers have been recording their daily activity with electronic activity logs.
Seto delivered reports to council members Monday night, showing the data from those logs through Sept. 30.
The officers' activities are divided into four categories: dedicated proactive policing and community engagement, unassigned proactive patrolling, administrative assignments, and dispatched assignments or reactive policing.
The figures show dayshift officers dedicated 46 percent of their time to proactive policing, 32 percent to reactive policing, and 22 percent to administrative assignments, which include meetings, breaks, court time and training.
Nightshift officers dedicated 57 percent of their time to proactive policing, 26 percent to reactive, and 17 percent to administrative assignments.
Special traffic unit officers dedicated 58 percent of their time to proactive policing, 11 percent to reactive policing, and 31 percent to administrative assignments.
Seto acknowledged data entry for the first few months was not consistent and training has been ongoing to be more consistent, but he said there will be seasonal fluctuations in the data based on changes in activity and call volumes.
The most recent data for the month of September shows dayshift officers dedicated 40 percent of their time to proactive policing, nightshift officers dedicated 50 percent, and traffic unit officers dedicated 60 percent.
As a result of the new data, supervisors and officers have been identifying new dedicated proactive policing activities to engage in for the remainder of 2013, Seto said, adding staffing modifications also will be taking place for 2014.
"This data gives us a benchmark and a foundation for how I can deploy the officers, and we've already started doing some of that," Seto said.
Seto plans to assign one additional officer to the department's traffic unit to address traffic complaints coming from the community starting Jan. 1.
The traffic unit has five officers right now, including one administrative officer and four others actively doing traffic enforcement.
The distribution of patrol officers also will be modified to increase the number of officers assigned to the swing shift, when the volume of calls is greater.
"We're reassigning two patrol officers to our swing shift — from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m — because we find that is our busiest shift," Seto said.
Supervisors also are being more proactive in assigning officers, Seto added, noting officers are doing more foot patrols in malls and shopping districts during the holiday season when there typically is an increase in shoplifting.
Seto noted a community engagement sergeant position was created this year to focus on proactive policing and community outreach.
That person is responsible for attending community meetings and working with the schools on programs like Safety Town and responses to critical incidents, as well as a graffiti removal program with the 15th District Court.
Through a 12-week program, Seto said, juvenile offenders completed 218 hours of community service, most which focused on graffiti removal.
Seto said one of the department's priorities for 2014-15 is ramping up a new Crime Strategy Unit with the mission of reducing crime.
"Currently it is staffed with a sergeant and two officers," he said. "On Jan. 1, that will be increased to three officers."
The FBI crime statistics show there were 227 violent crimes reported in Ann Arbor last year, and 2,726 property crimes.
That included one murder, 35 forcible rapes, 50 robberies and 141 assaults. It also included 714 burglaries, 1,898 larcenies, 114 stolen vehicles and 23 arsons.
That comes to a total of 2,953 crimes in those areas in 2012, compared to 2,758 reported by the city in 2011.
Crime in Ann Arbor dipped to its lowest level in a decade in 2011 . It was down 15 percent from the year before, and down 27 percent from a decade ago.
Seto indicated in a memo last month that 2013 statistics through Nov. 2 showed a total of 2,418 crimes, including 196 violent crimes and 2,222 property crimes, and it looked like crime was going to be down about 2 percent for the year.
Terminally ill boy and Durham police bolstered by heartwarming visit
It's the kind of poignant story that will warm your heart and even bring some tears no matter the time of year -- a sick boy whose spirits are lifted by a spectacular visit from some Durham police officers.
Police from Durham Regional Police's Oshawa division paid a visit on Dec. 6 to Danny Taylor, who is four and dying of cancer. They brought police cars, SUVs, the tactical vehicle, police dogs and even the police helicopter, which hovered over the Taylor family's Waverly Street home. Danny, who loves police cars, got a ride in the SUV and lots of attention from the kindhearted cops.
This is Durham Regional Police at their best, as individuals, as people, as part of the community, and it's most welcome after a year with some rather ill-advised actions that generated much publicity.
There was the police officer who was caught on video making threats to a citizen earlier this year. And then there was the fraud squad officer who was demoted after he created a Twitter account in another officer's name and tweeted nasty messages about Ontario's ombudsman.
The visit to Danny won't make us forget those incidents but it does show the strength of Durham cops, building strong relationships with people and the community.
It didn't happen overnight. Several months ago, Constable Ryan Bolton was on patrol when he spotted Danny heading down the street in his toy car, his grandmother watching him. Const. Bolton stopped, talked to Danny and let him sit in the police car with lights and sirens going.
Danny's family sent an e-mail to the police, letting them know how grateful they were and how much the visit meant to a terminally ill lad who loves police cars.
That e-mail hit home with the Oshawa division cops who basically “adopted” him, said Inspector David Saliba. A tour of headquarters for the boy and his family was planned but Danny's health made that difficult. So police decided to go to him.
This isn't the first time Durham cops have brightened someone's day and it won't be the last. Earlier this year, a four-year-old girl was celebrating her birthday with some road hockey with friends and family. A police officer spotted them, parked his cruiser and got out. When he approached, he delighted the kids by asking if they had another stick and he promptly joined in the game. The family sent a letter to Metroland Media, praising this great piece of community policing.
Of course, an annual bit of community policing is going on now as Durham police conduct their toy drive, helping make sure all children enjoy Christmas. Don't forget to do your part to make this happen.
Every day, Durham police officers quietly do good deeds that don't generate publicity. The good work done by the department outshines the few examples where good judgment lapses. Let's hope we continue to hear more about good community policing in Durham.
Public safety change in Calif. has real consequences
Public safety realignment has increased crime in California.
A report released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California compares the first nine months of 2011 — before realignment was launched that October — to the first nine months of 2012, focusing on the 10 largest counties where 70 percent of the population lives. It found that property crimes increased 7.4 percent and violent crimes rose 3.7 percent.
In Riverside County, the increase in violent crime was almost double the state average at 7.2 percent. Most dramatically, vehicle theft increased 14.8 percent — an increase of 24,000 thefts, reversing a downward trend.
The reason is obvious. In the first 12 months following realignment, the prison population declined by 27,000. Of those, about 9,000 of them now serve time in county jail and about 18,000 are on the street.
Realignment was designed to shift only low-level criminals from state to county responsibility, following three criteria:
• Offenders convicted of nonsexual, nonviolent and nonserious crimes (so-called triple-nonoffenses) with no such crimes appearing in their criminal records.
• Parole violators who re-offend are no longer sent to state prison but serve short stays in county jails or face other local sanctions.
• Most offenders released from prison for triple-nonoffenses are now supervised by county probation departments rather than state parole.
Many parts of the state, such as Riverside County, don't have the capacity to absorb so many more inmates. As a result, those sentenced to county jail spend less time in custody, so they're back on the street faster. The state may consider these folks “low-level offenders,” but they're more of a risk.
An Associated Press analysis found that in those same 10 counties in the year following realignment nearly 2,000 more inmates were assaulted by other inmates, a one-third increase over the previous year. Attacks on jail employees increased 165 percent during that period.
Gov. Jerry Brown had no good choices to comply with court orders to reduce the prison population. But it was unrealistic to expect this process to succeed without consequences.
Another Public Policy Institute of California report released last month made recommendations funding public safety in the future, suggesting bonuses for counties that reduce recidivism — the percentage of repeat offenders. Good idea. It has always been assumed that counties can do a better job of reforming criminals than the state, which had a recidivism rate of 70 percent.
Proposition 30, the temporary sales and income tax increases approved by voters last fall, provides a reliable income stream for public safety realignment. But the increases are short-lived. State and county leaders must take a long-term approach in finding ways to keep our streets safe.
The campaign should be more than just finding money to build more cells. If we keep building jails, we'll just keep filling them up. Stronger investments should be made in community policing to prevent young people going down that path in the first place and treatment for inmates trying to rebuild their broken lives.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and its partners in our 58 counties, should emphasize the word rehabilitation .