The Madison Heights Police Department, seen May 19. A recent analysis of crime last year in Madison Heights showed an overall drop in criminal activity. Larceny and retail fraud continues to be the most prevalent crime, due in part to the concentration of big-box stores in the city. But even that category saw   decrease from 2019.

The Madison Heights Police Department, seen May 19. A recent analysis of crime last year in Madison Heights showed an overall drop in criminal activity. Larceny and retail fraud continues to be the most prevalent crime, due in part to the concentration of big-box stores in the city. But even that category saw decrease from 2019.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Police report shows decline in crime last year in Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 24, 2021


MADISON HEIGHTS — In a presentation to the Madison Heights City Council, the police chief provided a statistical analysis of crimes and responses for 2020.

Chief Corey Haines looked at two categories of crime — Group A and Group B — with the Group A crimes being more serious crimes generally punishable by a year or more in prison.

In that category, there were 360 cases of larceny and retail fraud, as well as 225 assault offenses, 114 cases of damage to property, 54 home invasions or burglaries, and 14 robberies.

The most frequent Group B crimes were operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs at 100 cases, obstructing police at 59 cases, and disorderly conduct at 49 cases.

Combining the two groups accounts for 1,582 crimes, a decrease of 251 from 2019, or 13.7%. The year 2020 did see two homicides, while there were no murders in Madison Heights in 2019. Burglaries decreased from 70 reports in 2019 to 54 in 2020, while robberies were about the same, at 13 and 14, respectively. There were two arson incidents in 2019, but only one in 2020.

Haines noted a slight increase in criminal sexual conduct cases in 2020, from 15 to 19.

“This can be partially attributed to having an active Special Investigations Unit investigating sex trafficking cases and rescuing victims who may not have otherwise reported these crimes,” he said.

“Larceny and retail fraud is clearly the offense that Madison Heights residents experienced the most,” Haines continued, adding that those crimes dropped from 480 reports in 2019 to 360 in 2020. “Larceny and retail fraud are higher in Madison Heights (compared to other crimes) due to our concentration of big-box stores such as Best Buy, Micro Center, Home Depot, Meijer and others.”

Larcenies include packages stolen from porches, items stolen from in or on motor vehicles or other private property, and from areas and businesses not open to the general public.

“This decrease can also be partially explained by lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more people being at home,” Haines said.

Motor vehicle theft went up, however, increasing from 46 incidents in 2019 to 68 in 2020.

Despite the pandemic, the Madison Heights Police Department dedicated 945 hours to providing in-service training to its officers on the topics of implicit bias, cultural diversity, responding to calls involving mental health, use of less lethal weapons, Narcan training and more.

Madison Heights officers attended a combined total of 1,345 hours of training at outside locations. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, training at outside locations was reduced from prior years.

The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, of which Madison Heights is a part, made 14 felony arrests in 2020, located one missing child, executed 103 search warrants, and seized 16 weapons that were being used in the commission of serious crimes.

The Special Investigations Unit focused on crimes occurring in hotels, but it also made many arrests for other crimes, such as manufacturing methamphetamine, delivering heroin and meth, larceny of packages, carrying concealed weapons and more. For 2020, the team made 208 arrests, charged 90 people with felony offenses, and charged 58 with misdemeanor offenses.

The Special Investigations Unit commenced investigations that led to two arrests for human trafficking, three arrests for human trafficking of a minor, three arrests for possession of child porn, seven arrests for weapons offenses, and 193 other offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors.

The team seized five handguns used in the commission of a felony and one short-barreled shotgun. They were successful in confiscating powdered cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, meth, fentanyl and controlled pill narcotics with an estimated street value of over $25,000. In addition, the team also conducted 11 Michigan Liquor Control Commission investigations and 22 on-site liquor inspections, issuing four violations as a result.

The city of Madison Heights participates in the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, or NET, and on that front, the chief reported countywide statistics, including 404 investigations, 226 search warrants for illegal narcotics and 95 firearms seized by NET officers.

The team removed 8,184 grams of cocaine, 439 grams of crack, 1,800 grams of fentanyl, 1,732 grams of heroin and 2,441 grams of meth, as well as 4,037 units of prescription drugs and nearly 350 units of “other dangerous drugs.”

The department’s detective bureau — comprising one lieutenant, one sergeant and three patrol officers — was assigned to 2,476 cases, obtained 145 felony charges and 346 misdemeanors, and referred seven cases to Oakland County Youth Assistance.

Road patrols, which Haines calls the “backbone” of police operations, responded to 26,732 calls in 2020, down from 27,833 calls in 2019. There were 1,251 arrests, up from 1,106 the year prior. There were 787 building alarms, down from 976.

Road patrols also investigated 1,173 accidents, up from 1,1718, and handled 99 impaired driving arrests, down from 145. Officers issued 7,566 traffic violations, down from 11,807.

Justin Holland, the animal control officer, investigated 1,642 miscellaneous complaints in 2020, up from 1,311 in 2019. There were 18 cases of animal bites or scratches, down from 20, and there were 327 animal pickups, up from 284. There were also 109 pets adopted, up from 78 the year prior.

On the shelter’s financial front, there were $20,760 medical costs paid for veterinary services, up from $16,873. This was covered by $5,534 raised for the shelter in cash donations, down from $6,182 in 2019, and $3,618 in fundraising, down from $9,353 in 2019. The drop in charitable giving was offset by a state grant of $4,200. There had been no state grant the year prior.

With regard to police reserves, the group donated more than 1,837 volunteer hours in 2020 working all city events, helping with traffic control and school events, and handling vacation home checks, school and park patrols, and delivery of court subpoenas.

“The key is crime is down, overall, by 13.7%,” Haines said. “Although some of that decrease can be attributed to the pandemic, it also needs to be attributed to all of the hard work that officers and detectives have put into patrolling the city, investigating and solving crime, as well as our dispatchers taking calls for dispatch.

“The Special Investigations Unit continues to be a strong asset to the department and contributes to the large amount of increase in arrests. The Special Investigations Unit also contributes to the number of rape cases being reported, since otherwise the victims may not report the crimes.

“The Police Department continues to make community policing and the safety of our community our top priority,” the chief concluded. “The hard work and dedication of our employees make this possible.”

Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein expressed her appreciation.

“At a time when all levels of government are tasked with doing more with less, all our departments continue to step up and do just that. The depression 10 years ago effectively defunded all our departments, and our police were no exception. We must continue to take action to provide them with funding so they have access to the critical resources they need,” Grafstein said via email.

“Everyone benefits when our police receive the training and support they need to effectively do their jobs so that all of us stay safe. Residents and visitors to the city continually comment on what a safe community we have, and as we look at issues that plague other cities, I stand with our police who put themselves out there everyday to ensure that my family and yours is safe,” Grafstein said. “The proactive programs that Chief Haines and his staff undertake regularly are admired across the state, and I receive nothing but compliments about our department from law enforcement officers in other cities.”