Serious crime declines in Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 10, 2018

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Grosse Pointe Park residents and visitors can feel safe in the city. Serious crime fell substantially last year, according to the recently released 2017 annual public safety report.

Index crimes — considered the more serious offenses — dropped about 20 percent from 2016, falling from 228 incidents to 182 last year. That’s believed to be a record low; in 2010, the Park experienced a 30-year record low for index crimes at 248 incidents. Numbers have hovered in the 200s since that time.

“The crime rate was considerably down in part I crimes (which are also known as index crimes),” Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni said. “We had a good year.”

Larceny — the most common index offense — fell considerably, from 163 incidents in 2016 to 139 in 2017. Armed robbery rose — to two incidents in 2017, up from zero in 2016 — but there were 10 armed robberies in 2014.

Burglaries and home invasions showed a steep decline, from 20 incidents in 2016 to 11 in 2017. That’s not only below the five-year average, but also a historic low. The previous record, of 17 home invasions or burglaries, was in 2011, when former Park Public Safety Director David Hiller said the city had the fewest number of those crimes in record-keeping history. There were 18 reported burglaries or home invasions in 2009, but in recent years, the number has been in the 20s.

Auto theft fell roughly in half, from 31 incidents in 2016 to 14 in 2017. Poloni thinks the Arrest Car Thieves in Our Neighborhoods task force — which includes officers from the Park, the Harper Woods Public Safety Department and the Detroit Police Department — is an important factor, calling the presence of ACTION “a big plus.”

Non-index crimes — considered the less-serious offenses — are up quite a bit, from 111 incidents in 2016 to 160 in 2017. Poloni said the increase is due largely to a spike in identity theft, and it’s a trend that he said is likely to continue.

“I think with computer crimes, they’re only going to increase as hackers get more sophisticated,” he said. “We advise credit (report) monitoring.”

Although the rise in non-index crimes gives the Park roughly flat crime numbers overall — the city had 339 total reported crimes in 2016 and 342 in 2017 — the drop in the most serious and violent types of offenses is being hailed as good news by city officials.

In an email, City Manager Dale Krajniak said that it’s “a very positive report, and it speaks well for the department. Comparatively, Grosse Pointe Park, and the Pointes as a whole, are very, very safe communities.”

Krajniak noted that Petoskey, for example — “also a very safe community” — had almost twice as many incidents as the Park. Other safe Michigan communities, such as Birmingham and Rochester, likewise had more reported crimes than the Park, he said.

Mayor Bob Denner was pleased by the data.

“The Public Safety report was very positive news for Grosse Pointe Park,” he said in an email. “It confirms that our prospering city is also very safe. Our public safety officers are doing a terrific job of protecting our community and acting as a resource to our residents. The results confirm the excellent quality of our department and the success of the department’s training program.”

Poloni said his officers and detectives deserve credit for the lower crime statistics.

“Overall, it’s proof of the dedication and hard work of the police officers,” he said. “It shows the officers are being diligent in doing their job.”

Residents are encouraged to continue doing their part to deter crime. Besides locking vehicles, homes and garages and not leaving valuables like purses and cellphones in plain sight in vehicles, city officials say residents can deter crime by just being watchful.

“I also would like to encourage our residents to continue to act as eyes and ears for our Public Safety Department, and contact them with any concerns or questions,” Denner said by email. “I also thank our citizens for supporting the department through the special public safety millage, which enabled a number of important equipment updates, including the purchase of a new pumper fire truck.”