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Grosse Pointe is Safe, Low Crime Community, Chiefs Say

Despite the perception by the public, the directors of public safety from all of the Grosse Pointes say major crimes were down in 2011 as compared to 2010. More detailed information will be released as each department completes its annual report.

Word of has swept through the Pointes and has been the topic of conversation nearly everywhere in the community. and her death has come as a shock to friends, neighbors and residents throughout the Grosse Pointes.

The perception that crime is on the rise, however, is not accurate, public safety directors said.

Public Safety Director David Hiller said early Friday that residents should feel safe and understand that crime is not getting worse in the area. The crimes reported for 2010 were the lowest he has ever recorded in his decade as the department's director, he said.

"We have an extremely safe community," Hiller said, noting the downward trend in major crimes, called index crimes, in the Park for the last five to six years.

The directors from the other Grosse Pointes agree. 

Public Safety Director Andrew Pazuchowski said he's heard a lot of talk about having neighborhood watch groups. Those groups are fine, he said, but the best kind is not one that patrols the neighborhood but one in which residents build a network by being neighborly. His best piece of advice is for residents to be friendly with all of their neighbors and to communicate regularly.

Exchange phone numbers and be aware of your surroundings all the time, Pazuchowski said, "whether you're in Grosse Pointe, Sterling Heights or anywhere for that matter." It is a good idea to tell your neighbors when you'll be on vacation and who they should expect to see coming and going from your home during your absence. That will aid in the detection of something suspicious or askew, he said.

While the directors understand why Bashara's death and are upsetting, residents should not feel panicked, they said. Similar questions and thoughts arose last year after the Sherwin Williams store on Mack Avenue was robbed at the beginning of 2011, .

Bashara's death is still under investigation. .

Hiller said early Friday there are not any updates on the case yet but investigators are giving it all of their attention. They interviewed Bashara's husband Thursday, and Hiller said he was cooperative.

Part of what must be considered in the few recent violent crimes in or near the Grosse Pointes is that all crime is cyclical, Pazuchowski said, explaining he can recall chasing after an armed robber on Mack Avenue in the early 1980s. He also recalled an officer's squad car that was riddled with bullets in the mid-1990s during what should have been a routine traffic stop.

Pazuchowski and Hiller said statistics can be misleading.

Part of what must be considered when analyzing numbers and statistics of crimes is that percentage of increase or decrease should not be used in cities such as the Pointes, Hiller said.

As an example, he explained that if there is one armed robbery one year and there are two the next year, the percent of increase is 100 percent, which sounds alarming. But it is not a significant increase when you look at the raw numbers.

Earlier this week City of Grosse Pointe Director of Public Safety Stephen Poloni was the first of the five chiefs to present the annual report to council. The City experienced a decrease in major index crimes, had a higher volume of calls and a slight increase in lesser, more petty type of crimes, he said. Burglaries were the exception in the City, but Poloni said one person was prosecuted for a series of burglaries, which also impacts the numbers.

One point all the directors have emphasized long before Bashara's death is that the residents are their best eyes and ears, meaning that a resident is likely to know more easily if something or someone is out of place in their neighborhood or on their block.

Pazuchowski said this is where the value of being neighborly comes into play. When a neighbor knows you and sees something out of place, they are much more likely to alert you or police, he said, versus the neighbor that comes home, parks the car and runs inside not to be seen again until the next morning when they are leaving for work. 

Another important factor is to not feel as if you are bothering police, Pazuchowski said. If you notice a car that is parked and running on your street that you don't recognize and it is there for 20 minutes without anyone getting in or out, call police. Officers can then respond, identify the person in the car, find out what he or she is doing, and try to corroborate their story. This is something that would be likely to prevent a crime, Pazuchowski said.

"Don't feel like you don't want to bother us," Pazuchowski said. "That's what we're here for."

Bill January 28, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Maybe its the internet and sites like this that post the reports, but it does not feel as crime free as it did 30 years ago when I was a kid? How about cops walking the beat on Mack and alter road again
Chris K January 28, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Yes, things don't feel as safe. While the departments say we are their best eyes and ears, they need to go a step further and work collaboratively to create Neighborhood Watch programs and provide training to the residents. The training programs can be provided at the War Memorial, taped and then televised on our community access channels. We should have community public safety reports given by our public safety officers and televised on the community access channels. These channels are subsidized by our cable bills and should be used to benefit every facet of community life.
James Gerardi January 28, 2012 at 03:35 PM
A Grosse Pointe banker is found shot dead, miles away. A Grosse Pointe woman leaves church one night, and is found weeks later floating in the Detroit River. A lady exits a store on Mack and a guy carjacks her. Another Grosse Pointe woman leaves a downtown meeting at 4 p.m. and is found in her car in a Detroit alley, strangled to death. A nearby gas station is robbed by a gunman. The "Public Safety" page of the GP News is filled with accounts of garage thefts, shoplifting, car break-ins, and even the occasional home invasion or driveway mugging. Maybe, as Bill says, it's all the media attention, but it's hard to square these events with police reports that crime is "down." It makes you wonder what "down" means. Down from what? I hope the police realize that merely citing statistics is not going to change perceptions. Statistics work both ways. If you had five home invasions last year and four this year, that's a reduction of 20%, which sounds better than it is. Also: The police are reporting stats in their own GP communities. Add them up: 3 break-ins in the Park plus 2 in the Farms plus 3 in the Woods plus 2 in the Shores equals 10 break-in the the Pointes as a whole -- perhaps a good reason to bring all our police departments together into one force. They could then deal with these problems in their totality. They should at least issue an annual All-Pointes report, combining their stats so we can get a true picture of crime in our community.
LMJ January 28, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Chris, I agree with your comments on the Neighborhood Watch, and James, your comments re: actual statistics and perception are spot-on. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and regardless of what the numbers are all about, this is certainly a great time to discuss, as a community, all of the ways we can work together - and keeping the conversation positive. There is sometimes a tendency ( particularly in online/FB interactive media) for the conversation to degenerate towards a sort of "us and them" dialogue. That is something that actually prevents a real conversation about how we as a community can all work together to be safe and more importantly FEEL safe. As a Woods resident, I'd like to look into a community-wide ( or even a Pointes-wide) forum where this conversation can take place.
Chris K January 28, 2012 at 05:19 PM
If you search "Police and Fire" within Patch you can read for yourself the types of crimes that are being reported, not statistically compiled. Here are some of the headlines from Patch reports you be the judge about how you feel about it: 2 Detroit Men Arrested in Car Break-Ins Detroit Man Arrested in Woods, City Business Break-Ins 2 Men Arrested While Crossing Mack Toting Flat Screen Tvs Park Police Arrest 2 in Pharmacy Break-In Police Blotter: 2 Men Arrested for Possession of Burglary Tools Police Blotter: Alleged Assault After Club Visit, Gym Locker Ransacked Police Blotter: Employee Witnesses Vehicle Break-Ins, Calls Police Domestic Battery Erupts at Pancake House, Moves Down Mack Avenue
Sara Eaton Martin (Editor) January 28, 2012 at 08:45 PM
It's interesting the topic about media coverage-- that is one of the issues addressed last year following the Sherwin Williams armed robbery. The Woods chief said the crimes are being covered better and more by all media and word is traveling faster to residents nowadays as compared to even a couple of decades ago, which he believes is one of the contributing factors that crime is getting so much worse even though it's not reflected in the numbers. The idea about combining all of the stats to have a Grosse Pointe-wide look at crime community wide is a good idea-- Once all of the annual reports are finished, I will provide numbers for each community and then total them.... Thanks for the thoughts! Sara
Wendy January 29, 2012 at 02:12 AM
The numbers show that crime is decreasing in Grosse Pointe. Sara makes an excellent point--the media's coverage of crime, and in particular the internet--are giving the impression that it is worse, but that is not the case. Please compare the crime statistics from thirty or twenty years ago to today's. I'm fairly certain crime rates are lower. In GPP they are significantly so. What is so disheartening is to hear certain people make comments to the newspapers about how the crime in GP has gotten out of control, when that is patently untrue. These statements are an indirect, and undeserved, criticism of our public service officers who have worked tirelessly to keep our community safe. Indeed, their hard work has improved safety records almost across the board. Yet their efforts are disregarded when people make blanket, unsupported, and incorrect statements that crime is increasing. Not only do these comments promote mass hysteria, but they are an insult to our police, fire, and other first responders whose hard work keeps crime rates low in GP. These men and women deserve our recognition and support, not indirect public disparagement.
Carole January 29, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I agree that if the residents "do not feel safe" then it doesn't matter what the police numbers say. Whether it's one crime or six crimes, if the perception is not feeling safe in your own home, own neighborhood...changes have to be made!
LMJ January 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Carole, I agree as well. What I was saying above is that one thing we absolutely have in our favor as Pointe residents/business owners is that we are SUCH an engaged community, and SO many people are ready and willing to look for solutions, volunteer to create better circumstances, and to help our fantastic public safety dept. in their efforts to keep us safe and as we've said, to FEEL safe. I just found this link to resident Brittany Paquette's FB group that sounds like a great way to get started. http://www.facebook.com/groups/CitizensInAction/
Wendy January 30, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Well, if the problem is one of perception, and not based in reality, how does Ms. Paquette's group help? From what I have seen, she seems to be stoking the flames of fear. That only exacerabates the disconnect between reality (GP is safe) and perception (it's dangerous). What disturbs me the most is that her statements in newspaper comments about how bad crime in GP has become (which is false) will only cause more people to choose to live elsewhere. This will lower our property values, and degrade our community. These statements becomes self-fulling prophesy. This is all the more frustrating because the crime is actually DOWN. What we really need is someone willing to promote the positive in our community. I love it here. My family loves it here. My friends love it here. It is STILL a wonderful place to live. Unfortunately, those will the loudest negative voices are drowing out the positive message we need to send to attract good homeowners and investors.
LMJ January 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Wendy, promoting the positive is imperative. Having the conversation is what's important, which is where a collective of people who are looking to have a discussion about all of these things plays a role. Whether its a FB group, or some other mechanism my thought is that its the point of HAVING the discussion is what's important; parsing out the facts, the "perceptual " reality and everything in between and then using the results of that for the betterment of our collective community and ALL of our residents. I think FB groups pop up as a quick, sometimes effective sometimes not response to the continual barrage of the sensational aspects of the news, which quite frankly does add to the drama. Are FB groups always the best way to problem solve or keep the conversation positive and above the fray? Probably not. But in a group of 10 or a group of 700, everyone will fall somewhere along the spectrum. I agree that driving a sense of hysteria is counterproductive to any functional community. What could be productive is to use a forum like FB to counter hysteria and hype with thoughtful, mindful, progressive, hopeful dialogue. As long as there is an internet, there will be internet loons. My goal is to not avoid the conversation altogether but to take the best of whats out there and contribute meaningfully where I can.
uaau January 31, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Grosse Pointe is not a pleasant place to live, nor is it safe. Before we finally moved the heck away from there, I can recall hearing gunfights from the next city over (Detroit) every night. These folks defending GPP are either in total denial, or they are trying to defend their real estate values. It's impossible for them to believe that some one from their "club" could be capable of such a vicious act.

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