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Posted on Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Washtenaw County police agencies solve about 1 in 3 crimes; Ypsilanti has among highest clearance rates

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanto Police Clearance Rate photo.jpg

The Ypsilanti Police Department reported high clearance rates in 2009. Officer Brent Yuchasz and Sgt. Kevin Dorsey are pictured outside the station on Michigan Avenue.

Tom Perkins | For

About 1 in 3 crimes is solved in Washtenaw County, a clearance rate that climbs slightly above the statewide average, a recently released Michigan State Police database shows.

The county's 10 police agencies that patrol the cities, townships, villages and universities have a combined clearance rate of 34.89 percent, while statewide the average was 31.6 percent in 2009.

The highest clearance rate went to the Michigan State Police Ypsilanti post, where 53.4 percent of cases were deemed solved last year. The lowest clearance rate was shown by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department, where 19.2 percent of crimes were cleared.

The figures reflect both serious and minor incidents. The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are solved by arrest or were unfounded by the total number of crimes.

The statistics are of particular interest to Ypsilanti Township officials, who are exploring forming a police authority with the City of Ypsilanti. While the cost of policing has been an issue, officials say performance measures such as clearance rates are also being examined.

In 2009, the City of Ypsilanti Police Department posted a clearance rate of 39.9 percent, while the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department recorded a rate of 20.4 percent in Ypsilanti Township.

A complete look at local agencies shows:

  • Michigan State Police Ypsilanti post: 53.4 percent
  • Chelsea: 44.6 percent
  • Milan: 44.5 percent
  • Ypsilanti: 39.9 percent
  • Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety: 32.1 percent
  • University of Michigan Department of Public Safety: 30.9 percent
  • Ann Arbor: 29.9 percent
  • Pittsfield Township: 29.9 percent
  • Saline: 24.5 percent
  • Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department: 19.2 percent

The figures come from the MSP's 2009 Michigan Incident Crime Reporting database.

Police officials underscored that clearance rates aren't the only measure of a department’s success, and a number of variables play into how well an agency solves crimes. A jurisdiction's size, population density, demographics, types of crimes committed and police force size are factors often out of an agency’s control.

A department’s policing philosophy, how it allocates resources, emphasis on investigation and where it focuses its attention are contributing factors police chiefs can usually control.


Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker attributed her department’s success to its focus on community policing and her officers' dedication.

“I think that shows the hard work of the men and women of the Ypsilanti Police Department,” she said. “Certainly I’m pleased with the clearance rate, and I think it speaks to the community policing philosophy — it really does take a village.”

The state data is broken down into two incident types depending on severity. Group 'A' incidences are more violent crimes such as rape, murder, assault, burglary or car theft. Group 'B' is made up of less violent crimes, such as property damage offenses, embezzlement or drunk and disorderly.

Ypsilanti police reported Group A and B clearance rates of 23 percent and 76.7 percent, respectively, while the Sheriff's Department recorded clearance rates of 16.6 percent and 35.6 percent, respectively.

The Sheriff’s Department faced more violent crimes, with 5,672 to the city’s 2,267. Ypsilanti Township saw only 438 Group B incidents, while the city recorded 1,039.

Ypsilanti’s 33 officers served 19,200 residents at 1 officer per 565 residents, while the WCSD’s 48 deputies served 53,000 residents in Ypsilanti Township at 1 officer per 1,104 residents.

According to an MSP statistician, police agencies are given specific guidelines on uniformly recording and reporting crimes and clearance to the Michigan State Police and are provided training on the process bi-annually.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation uses the information to compile its Uniform Crime Reports on crime activity nationwide.

Ypsilanti Township Director of Police Services Mike Radzik said crime rates often make headlines, but clearance rates go largely ignored. He said Ypsilanti Township officials are considering several performance measures as they explore a joint department with Ypsilanti.

“Judging a police department solely on clearance rate statistics is not wise, however, ignoring the data isn't wise either,” he said. “The police carry out other functions like maintaining peace and order, traffic enforcement, etc. Having said that, we have been examining clearance rates, along with other types of data and information.”

Sheriff Jerry Clayton said there has been a history of poor record management at the Sheriff's Department, which he has sought to correct since being elected two years ago.

Clayton said he suspects the Sheriff Department's clearance rates would be higher if its statistics were better managed. 

“The numbers are reported the way they are, but I think there’s a misrepresentation in how they are managed,” he said. “It’s still our responsibility … but we’re in the process of trying to reconcile those issues.”

Officials said all solved crimes aren’t always recorded as such. For example, if a person is arrested for one crime but detectives discover he or she is guilty of five other crimes, agencies don’t always “clear” the other crimes.

Break-ins have been of particular concern in the eastern end of the county over the last several years. According to the MICR, the clearance rate on burglaries in the township was 5.8 percent, while 11.8 percent of burglaries were cleared in the city.

Walker said working in partnership with the community and engaging residents in the process has helped. She said it's reminiscent of the days when a police officer walked a beat and got to know the neighborhood.

“With the idea of always getting into a patrol car, you lost touch of the community, so we’re going back to the classic way of getting to know the neighborhoods and residents in our community,” she said.

Clayton said crime rate statistics show his department is effective in preventing crime.

In Ypsilanti Township, there were 72 crimes for every 1,000 residents in 2009, while in Ypsilanti, there were 171 crimes for every 1,000 people.

Countywide, for every 1,000 residents in 2009, Chelsea saw 55 crimes; Milan, 164; Saline, 68; Pittsfield Township, 63; and Ann Arbor, 63.

“When we start to look at the effectiveness of what we do, it’s important to the office and myself that the level in crime is as low as it can be,” Clayton said. “We are going to put as many measures in place as possible to prevent crime from occurring.”

Clayton said the department's multi-pronged effort to clean up the MacArthur Boulevard area in Superior Township and West Willow in Ypsilanti Township is an example of the department's proactive policing. He said the Sheriff’s Department undertook a number of measures, including engaging the community, stepping up patrol and setting up a special task force.

As with clearance rates, numerous factors contribute to a city’s overall crime rate. Ypsilanti sees significantly more minor crimes because of the young student population living there. Traditionally, cities with a concentration of younger people near a university will see more crimes such as public intoxication, which are usually easier to clear.

The discussion on performance is part of a larger conversation over Ypsilanti Township contracting with Washtenaw County for deputies. Much of the focus has been on the roughly 90 percent increase in “per officer” costs in the last eight years.

The per deputy cost in Ypsilanti Township in 2009 was $156,000, while it was $143,000 per officer in Ypsilanti.

Ypsilanti Township Trustee Stan Eldridge stressed cost is not the only consideration as talks over developing a police authority move forward. The clearance rates are being considered by the city-township Joint Police Services Committee, but he added clearance rates aren't the only measure of success.

"I think it's important in some of the areas that we’re looking at as a committee," he said. "A lower or higher clearance rate is just one piece of the puzzle in trying to determine if this is what we need to investigate as a municipality."

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

Something to think about folks. If you are assaulted and not able or willing to defend yourself, then not only do you have to survive long enough in the hopes of rescue, the chances of your case being resolved if the perp gets away OR YOU DIE is about 66% in the criminal's favor? You'll all forgive us gun owners and Concealed Pistol Licensees if we feel the need to raise the odds in our favor... An you antis think we're nuts?


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

Tom. Why did you write this story? This was horrible. Once again, tries to bash WCSO. When will it end???


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

So true. The bright side: plenty of opportunities to trim waste...


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 6:48 a.m.

@AlphaAlpha I think that total budget would be a great metric if governments did budgets like business. But... For example, the AAPD budget includes the cost of 'leasing' their vehicles by the mile from the city motorpool. Football overtime is charged to the AAPD budget and UofM's repayment goes to the General Fund so instead of looking like a $0 cost it looks like police overhead and City income. This is an old trick to inflate the PD's proportion of the budget so that if the City has to reduce cost they can say it will require laying off police officers.

The Dog

Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 11:06 p.m.

If the formula for case closure is based on physical arrests and the report that gets generated when the arrest is made, what reflect the number of cases that are closed by investigation and the request and authorization of a warrant by the prosecutor. Not to mention the number of such cases which go to court. If you want a more accurate picture of what an agency is doing look at the number of warrants authorized and the number of convictions in court. Just because an officer makes an arrest does not mean the case was successfully prosecuted. If you want to measure how safe a community is look at they types of sentences the judges administer for the type of crime once a conviction is obtained. For example one of the individuals in the Cayuga Street shooting in Ypsilanti Township was on probation for after pleading to two counts of Assault With Intent to Commit Great Bodily Harm Less Than Murder. He violated his probation twice and was still out on the street the night of the shooting. Ann Arbor. Com (June 30th 2010). You might also consider Ann Arbor. Com reported Washtenaw County had the highest repeat offender rate in the entire State of Michigan. Close all the cases you want if there are no consequences other than probation how safe are we. The size of the patrol area, staffing levels and the total number of complaints handled by the agency are also a factor which is not considered in the formula. You should also consider what level of service a responding officer or deputy supplies. For example, I have learned sheriffs deputies do the majority of their own investigations and handle any other complaints no matter the type of issue. Other agencies may utilize detectives for a majority of their case follow-up. Some agencies for example the State Police do not handle some types of complaints due to staffing, policy, and or other factors. This is not measured in the formula for case closure. But it does provide more resources and time to work on individual cases as opposed to several cases and complaints all at once. The politics of this issue should also be considered. Ypsilanti Township was opposed to contract policing in 2000 until an agreement was worked out between them and the County Board of Commissioners. Later the township sued the county over contract policing issues lost and appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The only people who won were the attorneys who collected fees paid by taxpayers every step of the way. Not to mention the hostility it generated between the board and the township and the stress to public safety workers. As to the cost of a deputy if the politicians and administrators would refrain from including non police cost into the contracting price a community pays for a deputy and equipment, the expense would not be as high. For example when contract policing began the County Administrator had his salary factored into the cost of deputy. That should not have been and did little to win the confidence of contracting communities. If political leaders would stop trying to advance their political agendas at the expense of the public and police who protect them the county as a whole would be better off.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 7:53 p.m.

Based on the stats above, a couple local agencies might as well eliminate the police department and go with the Ypsi State Police! I feel for Saline and Pittsfield, what gives?


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.

Cost divided by number of employees is a valid metric. Different from total compensation per employee, it includes cost of items used by the employees. Some of those items are useful and represents money well spent; some is unneeded and represents poor managerial decision making. High cost does not equate to quality service.

Tom Perkins

Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

Jhawkfan, Talk to ten different sheriff's and officials and you're going to get 10 different answers on what policing costs and what's a fair way to measure it. It has been my experience that the "fairest" way for those invested in this issue to measure cost is whatever way makes their department look best. Same goes for any measure of policing success, such as clearance rates or crime index. That said, you're looking at two different years with two different budgets in the first and second story. There was also some question as to how many "sworn officers" were serving the Township, which is determined by a formulating how many hours "countywide" officers - detectives and command staff, mainly - spend in Ypsilanti Township. Additionally, in between story one and two, the Township said there were two less sworn deputies than in the original story. The Sheriff's Department did not care to dispute that. That is what accounts for the differences. As for your second post, again, you're looking at two different years. You're also looking "officers on the street" which is a completely different cost analysis.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

@jhawkfan, you can't just divide the budget by the number of officers. The budget has many other factors like fleet cost, facilities cost. The budget doesn't just go to salaries and benefits.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

The State Police's clearance rate actually makes sense if you look at it like this. The Majority of the complain numbers (reports) that MSP pull are going to be self generate ie: A Trooper pulls a stop and the driver is drunk or has narcotics etc. That incident is cleared by an arrest at the same time the complaint is generated. IN the areas that MSP do run complaint cars they are in un-incorporated areas where the acual crime rate is very low (out in the "county")vs munciple poice depts that handle everything under the sun on a daily basis. YPD, AAPD or WCSD (or any other local jurisdiction) may handle 10 burglaries in a 24hour period in their juridictions but MSP complaint cars may only handle 10 in a whole month (obviously many of these are NOT immediately cleared with an arrest and many are never cleared). Conversly MSP 26 may pull and clear with arrest 10 complaints in a 24hour period for OWI etc but the municiple depts are running call to call in that same period and may be only able to clear acouple of incidents with arrest. Make sense?


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

Who writes the most traffic and parking tickets??


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

Here's another from story 1: "Ypsilanti Township contracts for 31 "police service units" at a cost of $161,000 per deputy. The City of Ann Arbor has 71 officers assigned to the street and an overall police budget of $26 million, equating to roughly $366,000 per officer. The City of Ypsilanti has a $4.6 million police budget for 19 officers on the street - or $242,000 per officer. Pittsfield Township operates with a budget of $5.1 million with 24 officers on the street, at a rate of approximately $212,000 per officer."


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Tom your two stories on the subject are a little unclear. Sounds like we have politicians playing politics with as the game board and Tom as the pawn. Next move County Commission. Story 1 shows: the Sheriff's Department 43 positions for Ypsilanti Township, bringing the per unit figure to roughly $112,000. Ypsilanti 32 sworn officers, dropping its per unit total to around $143,000." Story 2 shows:The per deputy cost in Ypsilanti Township in 2009 was $156,000, while it was $143,000 per officer in Ypsilanti. Contract costs in one of the stories I suspect, but all I care about is what I wind up paying for. This issue is too complicated for this kind of reporting. Anyone interested in the other story can read it here.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

This says a lot... "The Sheriffs Department faced more violent crimes, with 5,672 to the citys 2,267." "Ypsilantis 33 officers served 19,200 residents at 1 officer per 565 residents, while the WCSDs 48 deputies served 53,000 residents in Ypsilanti Township at 1 officer per 1,104 resident"


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

"Ypsilantis 33 officers served 19,200 residents at 1 officer per 565 residents, while the WCSDs 48 deputies served 53,000 residents in Ypsilanti Township at 1 officer per 1,104 residents. " Not sure of the last time Ypsi Twp had 48 Deputies. I think the true number is about 31. This would also put it about 1 Deputy per every 1358. Even when cutting 13 Deputies over the last two years. That only put the number at 44, not 48. Just throwing it out there.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

How convenient that the agency releasing the information has the best clearance rate. Any chance that is because the state police are not bogged down with the numbers of home invasions that most cities and villages are? It would be worth mentioning IF we knew the total number of crimes for each dept.


Sun, Oct 17, 2010 : 6:30 a.m.

The problem with crime rates is that they tell you how many crimes were reported; not how many occurred. Different departments take and classify crime reports differently. They may report them differently to the FBI as well. Departments also have different criteria for marking them cleared, as Sheriff Clayton alluded to. All to often these numbers are manipulated by departments based upon political need or to qualify for grants. We must remember that most crime goes unreported and most reported crime goes uninvestigated.