St. Clair Shores ranked 8th-safest city in Michigan

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 7, 2019

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Police Chief Todd Woodcox isn’t surprised to hear that St. Clair Shores ranked in the top 10 safest Michigan communities with more than 50,000 residents, according to SafeHome.org.

“St. Clair Shores is a very safe community,” he said. “Quite frankly, I think we should be ranked even higher.

“I know the city. I know the community. I know the residents, and statistics are interesting things, (but) they don’t always give a 100% clear reflection of what’s going on in a community.”

SafeHome.org named the top 25 safest cities in Michigan using the most recent statistics available from the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which was from 2015. With 698 citizens per police officer, 129 violent crimes and 756 property crimes for that year, St. Clair Shores ranked No. 8, higher than Sterling Heights, Troy and Warren.

The top three safest cities in Michigan, according to the site, were Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Township and Farmington Hills. At No. 5, Shelby Township was the safest Macomb County community named by the group.

Woodcox said that St. Clair Shores is always very careful that any statistics it sends to the state and the FBI are entirely accurate. Some communities, he said, have historically “fudged” the numbers.

“It is possible to skew those statistics, depending on how you report certain offenses,” he said. “That absolutely does not happen here.”

St. Clair Shores had a safety score of 85.76, according to the organization, which said that it looks at the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program and considers crime trends when deciding how to rank communities.

Having a safe community begins with involvement by residents and their willingness to support the Police Department, Woodcox said, as well as the investment that city leaders put into the department.

“We have better support for our Police Department in St. Clair Shores than any community I’ve ever been involved with or heard of,” Woodcox said.

Residents are the eyes and ears of the community, and are diligent about calling the department whenever they see something out of place, he explained. That, he said, means that sometimes crimes are stopped before they even occur because a resident has reported a suspicious person in their neighborhood.

The City Council, the mayor and the city manager provide the department “with the tools we need,” Woodcox said, because the police and fire millage does not cover the department’s entire operating budget.

“The men and women on the street and in our detective bureau are amazing. Every day they are out there doing their best, working hard. They don’t coast every day for eight hours,” he said.

Woodcox also credits “proactive policing” and traffic enforcement for deterring crime in the city. Having a police force that is active in patrolling the streets of the city “has a huge effect on the crime rate because people coming into town that are intent on committing some type of offense don’t like to see police officers out.”

From 2013 to 2017 across Michigan, vehicle crashes were up 9%. In St. Clair Shores, traffic crashes for the same period were down 8%.

“I attribute that to proactive traffic enforcement, which also feeds into our lower crime,” Woodcox said. “Criminals typically do not like to be in a community where there’s an active police force.”

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