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Grosse Pointe Farms

April 16, 2013

Serious crime down in Farms overall last year, report shows

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Although burglaries doubled from 2011 levels to 26 incidents in 2012, crime otherwise fell in most categories in the city, according to the annual Public Safety Department report.

And of the 26 burglaries — all of which were residential — Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen said all have since been cleared, and 12 of them were committed by the same suspects, and the crimes stopped as soon as these suspects were arrested.

“My detectives did a great job,” Jensen said.

Of two robberies last year — up from zero robberies in 2011 — one, an unarmed purse snatching in a driveway, was solved immediately, when officers fanned out across the area and apprehended the suspect as he was attempting to flee. The other — in which a jogger said two unidentified armed men demanded his iPod — remains unsolved.

But vehicle theft is down, from 11 incidents in 2011 to eight in 2012 — three of which were cleared by the time the report was released last month. And larceny, the most common of the more serious index crimes, fell 30 percent last year, from 120 incidents in 2011 to 84 in 2012. In total, index crimes fell from 147 incidents in 2011 to 122 in 2012 — a decline of 17 percent.

“All in all, I’m really proud of our guys,” Jensen said. “I’m proud of their preventative actions. I’m proud of their contact with the public.”

Jensen said support from the City Council for his department has been critical. To maintain the same manpower on the street, he said two officers who previously worked the desk are now back on the road. On average, he said the department has nine to 10 officers on the road at any given time, and often more. And residents can expect to see additional reserve officers walking the beat in major business areas on Mack and Kercheval, he said.

“Visibility is the No. 1 deterrent to crime,” Jensen said.

The Farms also retains a fire specialist on each shift to maintain equipment and perform a variety of other important duties.

Officers keep sharp by training on a regular basis, whether it’s an in-house exercise or one of the mutual training programs the Pointes are now holding.

“When there’s a major incident, the cooperation between our cities is unbelievable,” Jensen said. “We are best when it comes to fighting crime or fighting fires. The mutual aid pact is awesome.”

Cities around the state have faced staggering cutbacks, thanks to a dramatic loss in property tax revenue in recent years. Although the Farms has fared better than most, thanks in no small part to substantial reserves prior to the housing market collapse, even the Farms has had to trim its expenditures. Jensen helped his department reduce its expenses for the 2012-13 fiscal year by “retiring” last June. Although he’s still running the department, the city is saving about $60,000 on salary and benefits by Jensen receiving retiree benefits and working for the city as a contract employee.

“I love this job,” said the lifelong Farms resident, who has been a member of the Public Safety Department for 35 years and started working for the city as a Pier Park lifeguard in 1970. “I live here. I work here. I play here. I worship here. This is a great community — a great place to live and play.”

Personal service and focusing on crime prevention have been hallmarks of the department.

“In this line of work, you can’t do more with less,” Jensen said.

Mayor James Farquhar praised the department and its personnel for keeping the crime rate low and the closure rate “very high.”

“I think we’ve got great officers,” he said. “They’re very dedicated. We do a large amount of patrolling, which helps deter crime. … And if there is a crime, we put a lot of emphasis on catching the bad guy.”

Farquhar also said that their response time “is second to none.”

Maintaining a visible police presence is vital, he said.

“We’ve got police officers everywhere,” Farquhar said. “The bad guys know that we don’t mess around.”

Still, Jensen said they need the continued support of residents, whom he called “our unsworn auxiliary officers.” He said residents are urged to call the department immediately, even from the car, if they see anything out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods.

“If I didn’t want to be bothered, I wouldn’t have gotten married,” Jensen joked, noting that residents aren’t being a bother by calling the police. In many cases, such calls have tipped off law enforcement officials in time to stop suspects engaged in burglaries and other crimes.

People wishing to report unusual activity in their area can call (313) 885-2100.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.