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FBI: Sterling Heights’ crime levels drop overall

City deemed safest among high-population Michigan communities

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 4, 2019


STERLING HEIGHTS — Weeks ahead of a vote on a public safety millage, Sterling Heights city officials are crediting newly released FBI crime data as evidence that the city is the “safest big city in Michigan.”

According to city officials, the 2018 FBI Crime in the United States report shows Sterling Heights as having the fewest reported property and violent crimes among Michigan cities with populations over 100,000.

The report divides eight crimes into two categories: violent and property. Violent crimes include murder/nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Year over year, Sterling Heights’ overall violent crime underwent a 2% decrease, and property crime plunged 11.4%, officials said.

During an Oct. 1 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski commented on the statistics and credited the community for its vigilance and cooperation.

“We were safe — we’re even safer,” Dwojakowski said. “And I’d like to thank the men and the women of our Sterling Heights Police Department and all of our residents. It really is a group effort, but our crime stats came back, and they were outstanding.”

Sterling Heights, the fourth-most populous city in the state with 133,055 residents, compared itself to other communities with populations over 100,000: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Clinton Township.

The data showed Sterling Heights having 240 incidents of reported violent crime: two murders/manslaughters, 42 rapes, 19 robberies and 177 aggravated assaults. It also had 1,334 incidents of reported property crime: 139 burglaries, 1,073 larcenies and 122 motor vehicle thefts. There also were two arsons.

The city had less reported crime in all but two categories compared to the prior year. The exceptions were rape, increasing from 19 to 42; and motor vehicle theft, increasing from 107 to 122.

Most of the time, the major city with the second-least reported crime was Ann Arbor or Clinton Township. The only categories where Sterling Heights had more crime were aggravated assaults and motor vehicle thefts — Ann Arbor only had 168 and 67 incidents, respectively.  

Police cited a few possible reasons for the crime drop. Recent investments in the parks and related amenities could have cut crime by offering things to do and also encouraging people to occupy and surveil public areas, officials said.

Other factors include police community outreach and engagement programs, where officers are each assigned to a neighborhood district to meet with residents and conduct liaison duties.

Police officials said their two new K-9 police dogs have led to better tracking of drugs and suspects. A fourth K-9 dog named Rich was just approved and hired by the City Council at the Oct. 1 meeting.

In a statement, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said he  enjoyed seeing the Police Department’s reputation for keeping the peace backed up by statistics.

“Safety is one of our core values here in Sterling Heights, and we’re consistently a top-rated community in metro Detroit, largely because those looking to raise a family value safety above all else,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the safety of our community also has a significant positive impact on property values, which we have also seen rise over the past several years.”

Contact the Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800.