HAZEL PARK — Data compiled by the Hazel Park Police Department indicates that crime continued to drop in many categories last year.
This may be due, in part, to an increase in requests for service, which include routine checks in parks, at schools, around buildings and in neighborhoods.
Resident participation also spiked in public safety initiatives, like Community Watch and the Mobile Communications Support Unit (MCSU).
“Everyone is doing their part,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner, who took over for former Chief David Niedermeier at the start of 2012. “It makes a difference.”
Arrests saw an increase, from 1,222 arrests in 2011 to 1,302 arrests in 2012. More suspects were apprehended, yet in many categories, crime went down.
Hazel Park had zero murders in 2012. There was one murder in 2011: The slaying of Jonathan Clements, 19, of Hazel Park, who was shot and robbed in front of his aunt’s home in the 23000 block of Crossley Feb. 15, 2011.
There was only one parental kidnapping in 2012, down from four in 2011. These include cases in which a parent sharing joint custody leaves the state with the child.
Criminal sexual conduct (CSC) rose from 12 cases in 2011, to 16 cases in 2012.
However, the largest increase was CSC fourth degree, or forcible contact not involving penetration. More severe cases, like CSC first degree (with penetration), were down in 2012.
All forms of robbery — with gun, strong arm, other weapon, carjacking, and so on — dropped from 21 in 2011, to 19 in 2012.
Assault and battery, including domestics with non-aggravated injuries, dropped 43 percent, from 351 incidents in 2011 to 200 in 2012. However, aggravated felonious assault rose 93 percent, from 29 in 2011 to 56 in 2012. These involve a weapon other than a gun, like a bat or a lamp.
“Most of them were domestic-related, so we’re talking household items being used as weapons,” Barner said.
Breaking and entering crimes took a dip, from 178 incidents in 2011 to 110 incidents in 2012: a 38 percent decrease.
Larcenies from buildings also fell, from 105 in 2011, to 79 in 2012: a roughly 25 percent decrease.
Other larcenies — items stolen from inside vehicles, off of vehicles, or from outside a building — dipped from 245 incidents in 2011 to 159 in 2012: a 35 percent drop.
“All of our larcenies are down substantially,” Barner said.
The same goes for motor vehicle thefts, which fell from 131 in 2011 to 99 in 2012: a 24 percent drop. The recent high was 2008, when 216 vehicles were stolen.
“It’s been a steady decrease over the years,” said Barner.
Overall, there were 15,863 incidents in 2012. This is a roughly 23 percent increase from the 12,858 incidents in 2011. These include officers patrolling vulnerable areas.
Building checks in problem areas and neighborhoods saw the most dramatic change — a nearly 920 percent increase, from 293 in 2011, to 2,988 in 2012.
As for school checks, the HPPD did them before, but didn’t record them separately until Barner became chief. The same goes for park checks.
As such, there are no 2011 numbers available for these categories. In 2012, however, there were 392 school checks and 161 park checks.
“When I was first instituted, I got a lot of calls from teachers and parents who were happy to see an officer outside the school in the morning,” Barner said. “And this isn’t just the high school, but also the junior high school and the elementary schools.”
He added that police checks at Hazel Park Harness Raceway also increased, from 264 in 2011 to 510 in 2012.
The chief feels they all help to deter crime.
“The last five years are showing a steady decrease in the amount of crime, regardless,” Barner said. “I do feel, however, that some of the plans we’ve implemented, including the patrol technique changes, and the assistance from volunteer groups like MCSU and Community Watch, will help us to deter crime even further. We also have the auxiliary police out there on bikes.
“Any kind of presence helps,” he continued, “and I look forward to working with Community Watch groups, the businesses, and the schools to implement further changes that can hopefully keep us on this downward trend of crime experienced.”
The chief also commended his staff for their efforts.
“One thing that makes me feel proud as a department head is we’re accomplishing this with fewer resources,” Barner said. “Every department has seen budget cuts and personnel cuts, and there have been concessions on wages and benefits. Yet it doesn’t deter our employees from doing their job, and doing it effectively.”