Police say proactivity responsible for decrease in serious crime statistics

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 13, 2018

ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak Police Department releases an annual report of crime statistics, separated into Part A offenses and Part B offenses, with Part A offenses being more serious in nature.

On Feb. 5, the department released Part A statistics from 2017 alongside those from 2016 and 2007 to illustrate a “dramatic” decrease in serious crime in the city. Overall crime is at historic lows, according to Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue.

The full Royal Oak Police Department 2017 Annual Report will be available in the spring, according to the city.

Part A offenses in the recently released report include murder, aggravated assaults, simple assaults/intimidation, robbery, forcible rape, burglary, motor vehicle thefts, arson and larceny thefts.

Overall, Part A offenses are down approximately 15 percent from 2016 to 2017 — from 2,309 to 1,962 — and 47.5 percent from 10 years ago — from 3,737 to 1,962, according to police.

Conversely, Part A offenses dropped 0.72 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the Royal Oak Police Department 2016 Annual Report.

“We’re a very service-oriented police department,” O’Donohue said. “We’re also very proactive, and I think all of those proactive efforts by the officers working the road is the biggest single factor why our crime rates are going down.”

O’Donohue highlighted that aggravated assaults are down approximately 60 percent from 2007.

“I think a really important thing for Royal Oak is robberies and burglaries,” he said.

Robberies are down approximately 78 percent from 2007, from 36 in 2007 to eight in both 2016 and 2017, according to the report. Burglaries are down approximately 82 percent from 2007, from 255 to 45, and down approximately 47.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, from 86 to 45.

O’Donohue, who has been with the Police Department since 1993, said that during his time on the force, crime in the city has been on the decline.

“I think there’s some issues in really urban areas, but for the most part, we’ve had some pretty significant reduction in crime,” he said. “Royal Oak is more than our downtown. We have a lot of neighborhoods. It’s a great community with a lot of exciting things happening now.”

A 3.9-mill public safety millage that passed in 2012 and was recently renewed by voters in November, with an expiration date of 2023, helped the Police Department by increasing the number of police officers to its current total of 79, O’Donohue said.

“We have less officers than we really ever had,” he said. “We had to lay a bunch of officers off. We reorganized the department. We eliminated officers that we didn’t feel were necessary, and we do have a much greater emphasis on accountability on the officers.”

He praised the Royal Oak Police Department officers as “the best in the state.” By changing the culture in the Police Department, O’Donohue said, the officers routinely go above and beyond. 

“I can’t speak highly enough of the officers on the street. They’re the ones making a difference,” he said. “We have a great detective bureau who do a great job solving crimes. Ideally, we don’t want crime in the first place, but if we put out a reputation of having good officers who are out there working, word gets out to the criminal element to avoid this area.”

Lt. Keith Spencer, who heads the Criminal Investigation Division, said he believes the city’s decrease in serious crime statistics has to do with the productiveness of the officers, coupled with the partnerships that the Police Department has with other law enforcement agencies.

“From the criminal investigations standpoint, when we’re looking at crime trends, being proactive with the information we get and sharing that information with the patrol officers and other agencies, and getting ahead of any trends that could be coming our way, whether they do eventually occur in Royal Oak or not, (is key),” Spencer said.

With fewer sworn officers in the department now than in 2007, Spencer said the significant drop in Part A offenses over the last decade is “another testament to the hard work that the men and women in our (department) do on a daily (basis).”

To view the Royal Oak Police Department 2016 Annual Report, visit www.romi.gov/documentcenter/view/15199.

For more information, call the Royal Oak Police Department at (248) 246-3500.