Annual Grosse Pointe Woods public safety report details crime, upgrades in 2019

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 23, 2020


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — According to the Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety’s 2019 annual report, there was a 7% decrease in crime overall from 2018 to 2019 in the city.

The report was presented by Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety Director John Kosanke at the June 15 Grosse Pointe Woods City Council meeting. The council voted 6-0 to accept the report. Due to COVID-19, the meeting was held via Zoom video conference.

Every year, the Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety prepares an annual report of crime statistics for Grosse Pointe Woods, the Michigan State Police’s Michigan Incident Crime Reporting and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report. The data are compiled from offenses reported to the department, monthly police reports and individual crime incident reports.

“We’ve reviewed this. It’s a very good report … positive, etc.,” Mayor Robert Novitke said. “It just gives us that sense of safety and commitment in this community.”

The department’s public safety officers are trained in police and fire skills. According to the report, there were a total of 586 crimes reported in 2019 compared to 633 in 2018. Last year, officers responded to 9,828 calls for service.

Although larceny continued to be the most common crime reported in the community last year, the total of 145 incidents is the lowest total in this category since 2015, the report states.

“There was also a significant 76% reduction in the number of burglaries since 2018. The number of robberies was consistent with the previous year, with six incidents,” according to the report. “Although fraud continued to be the highest non-index crime reported, it decreased by 23%. Decreases were also seen in the crimes of damage to property, narcotics and weapons laws.”

There were, however, some crimes that increased from 2018 to 2019. Aggravated assault cases increased from four to 12, and auto theft incidents increased from 12 to 29. Driving under the influence arrests rose 18% from the previous year, intimidation/stalking rose by 31% and other assaults went up by 35%.

“The larcenies from auto seem to be a sore spot in the city,” Kosanke said. “One of the complaints I’m seeing more (of is) maybe (doing) more traffic investigations. (There are) complaints of speeding and reckless driving.”

The report also included details regarding the department’s fire division. In 2019, officers responded to 243 fire runs, which showed an 11% increase over the previous year.

“The number of actual fires decreased by 11%, and the amount of fire damage decreased from $827,500 in 2018 to $73,600 in 2019,” the report states. “The certification of a second fire inspector in early 2019 has already doubled the amount of fire inspections that the department has done since 2018.”

The report also highlighted several projects completed in 2019. For starters, the department replaced its 30-year-old self-contained breathing apparatus system with an updated model capable of filling a large volume of bottles at a faster rate. The self-contained breathing apparatus is a respiratory device that contains and delivers breathable compressed air to firefighters.

According to the report, it was a joint purchase with expenses split between Grosse Pointe Woods,  Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Shores. The new equipment is housed in the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department apparatus bay and is available for use by members of the two other departments. In addition, the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department purchased 15 Tasers to replace 13-year-old Tasers that could not be repaired because of their age.

Two years ago, construction began on the renovation of the Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety’s jail. The project was completed last summer, and the upgrades include two standard jail cells, a holding area, a cell that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act’s criteria, interview rooms, a new processing area where suspects are fingerprinted and more.

“We’ve been able to get these projects done with the support from the mayor and council,” Kosanke said. “We continue to operate as efficiently as we can.”

“Thank you for all the work you and your team do for our community,” said Council member Michael Koester, who also asked about current training among the officers and which specialized skill sets are being used.

“We train every single week. There’s a lot of discipline we have to train for,” Kosanke said. “We need to prepare the officers for what they’re going to encounter on the streets. There’s a lot of areas we have to keep our eyes on.”

Although the report highlighted the year 2019, Kosanke also mentioned how the department has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and the storms that hit the evening of June 10.

“When things happen, the officers pull together,” Kosanke said. “We will continue to keep the community safe.”