City crime numbers rise from 2016 lows

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 27, 2018

GROSSE POINTE CITY — After a record low crime rate in 2016, crime numbers crept up last year. That’s according to Grosse Pointe City’s annual public safety report, delivered to the Grosse Pointe City Council by Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni Feb. 12.

Part I index crimes — which Poloni said are the “more serious crimes” — rose from 88 incidents in 2016 to 105 in 2017. However, Poloni said the 2017 figure is “pretty consistent with the (past) five years.” There were 105 Part I index crimes in 2015, 103 in 2014 and 96 in 2013.

The biggest increase was in larcenies — the most common Part I index crime — with 77 incidents in 2017, compared to 71 larcenies in 2016. The number of larcenies remains fairly consistent with previous years: 85 in 2015, 78 in 2014 and 70 in 2013. Poloni said there was an increase last year in larcenies from vehicles, which contributed to the overall increase in larcenies.

Part II index crimes, considered to be less-serious offenses, rose as well, to 173 incidents in 2017, up from 131 in 2016. There were 150 Part II crimes in 2015, 130 in 2014 and 130 in 2013, according to data in the report. Part II crimes include drunken driving, malicious destruction of property and narcotics offenses, among others.

Part II crimes also include fraud, under which identity theft falls. Fraud crimes are on the rise, with 48 incidents reported in 2017 compared to 32 in 2016.  

“Those numbers are something that’s out of our control,” Poloni said.

And he warned that 2018 fraud numbers could well be higher than 2017 numbers. Of late, the City and other municipalities across Michigan have been fielding scores of calls from residents who are the victims of fraudulent unemployment benefit claims. Unknown suspects have used the personal information of victims in an attempt to obtain unemployment benefits from the state. In one week in February alone, the City had 15 reports of such fraudulent claims from its residents, Poloni said.

“It’s a huge epidemic in the state right now,” he said. “I anticipate that to continue.”

Along with the increase in crimes, there was a substantial increase in arrests last year, with 188, compared to 141 arrests in 2016, 132 in 2015, 88 in 2014 and 112 in 2013.

One of the initiatives Poloni said the department is “very proud of” is its Seniors And Law Enforcement, or SALE, program. Officers who volunteer for SALE are paired with City seniors who join, and the officers keep in contact with these residents — by phone, email or visits — about events, crime trends, community efforts and areas of concern.

In 2017, Poloni said, 13 residents were matched with officers in SALE. There were 11 officers who volunteered to work with seniors as part of this program.

“It’s been a great program, and very successful,” he said.

After the meeting, Mayor Christopher Boettcher expressed pride in the department and the work done by its officers.

“I think they’ve done a great job,” he said.

Boettcher said residents play a vital role in reducing crime and enabling officers to nab suspects. He urged residents to contact the Public Safety Department immediately if they see any unusual activity in their neighborhood.

“It takes residents to communicate to our department,” Boettcher said. “The watchful eyes of residents can help (public safety do its job).”

Poloni said the board that reviews candidates for annual public safety awards met recently to make its selections. At press time, he said he anticipated that about 20 awards would be given out during the next regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. March 19.