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Posted on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Downtown beat cops: Ann Arbor DDA considering options for funding increased presence downtown

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority officials haven't yet reached a decision whether they'll help the city pay for new police officers in the downtown.

The idea of funding downtown "beat cops" has been seriously discussed by the DDA since last winter — before the City Council made a formal plea, said DDA Treasurer Roger Hewitt.


Ann Arbor police officers on patrol near Liberty Plaza in August 2011. The city doesn't have downtown beat cops specifically assigned to the DDA area, but it does generally have about 12 to 14 officers over two shifts assigned to patrol the larger downtown area, bound by Huron, Main, Stadium and Packard.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

"There are a number of different ways — if we chose to address policing in the downtown — of approaching that, whether it's ambassadors, whether it's community service officers, whether it's beat cops, whether it's some combination of those," Hewitt said on Wednesday.

"What are the needs? What's appropriate?" he added.

The City Council went on record in early June, after adopting the city's budget for 2013-14, asking the DDA to fund three new Ann Arbor police officers to increase presence in the downtown.

Hewitt said the DDA's Operations Committee wants to have DDA staff spend some time investigating different options and looking at what other cities are doing.

"We're not going to make an instantaneous decision to start paying for beat cops or community service officers or ambassadors," he said at Wednesday's DDA meeting. "We're going to take a reasoned approach at this and try and find out what fits best for our city, if anything."

DDA board member Sandi Smith, who stepped down from the City Council last year, said she's not in favor of the DDA funding ongoing city operations.

"It would be great if we were to talk about funding a startup program the city is doing," she said. "If we could talk about equipment needs, whether it's uniforms or radios — something like that would be far more palatable to me."

"Are you advocating for RoboCop?" joked DDA board member Newcombe Clark in response to Smith's comments, noting a robot officer could be considered a depreciable asset.

"The committee will take RoboCop under consideration," said Keith Orr, another member of the DDA's Operations Committee.

"Every committee should take RoboCop into consideration," Clark responded.

Police Chief John Seto said in June there aren't any city police officers specifically assigned to the DDA area right now, but the city does generally have about 12 to 14 officers over two shifts assigned to patrol the area bound by Huron, Main, Stadium and Packard.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 6:07 a.m.

What's gonna happen is that the cops will scare away the women who keep asking me if I'd like some "companionship."


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Is that good news or bad news for you?


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Would a ballot proposal to put out a bounty on the DDA be legal, strictly speaking?

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Considering the AAPD has the staff to respond to every chicken call and noise nuisance I would think they can spare some cops for downtown.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

Any chance that those who have become a permanent installstion in front of Starbucks on Main St could let others have a table outside? Loitering at it's best. Get your posse together and pretend it's your front porch.

Sieben 7

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

The majority of our city council members boast that crime is down so why do we need additional police. This is simply a no brainer, We want the maximum police protection so if something bad happens the citizens of Ann Arbor are safe and protected.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

And the logical end point of your reasoning is where? Thought so.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

Time for police to hit the streets and the DDA to hit the road....


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Why do I have the feeling that the people who complain most loudly are never actually downtown? I have never experienced any of the problems that you fear, and I am often on foot in the downtown area, including near Liberty Plaza. Is the business community asking for more police presence?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

I never feel unsafe downtown, but panhandling is a nuisance that must be addressed.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

Exactly: "make the downtown I have conjured in my mind based on non stop reporting of misdemeanors a distopian nightmare not based in reality and ignore the safe streets that inhabitants enjoy and the near decade low crime rates."


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

A safer downtown will result with more police presence. Not only to us locals but the many out of towners who visit. The DDA should consider a safer Downtown Ann Arbor means more people will visit. More people equals more revenue for the city. What's not to understand?

Peter Eckstein

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

Would it have been too crass to mention that the chief sponsor of the City Council recommendation for more police downtown was Jane Lumm?

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Not crass at all! We've mentioned it in past coverage. From the story linked to in this story: The resolution — sponsored by Council Members Jane Lumm, Sally Hart Petersen and Sumi Kailasapathy — was approved by council in an 8-2 vote with opposition from Christopher Taylor and Margie Teall. Chuck Warpehoski was absent. The sponsors brought forward the resolution as a follow-up to remarks made by Mayor John Hieftje last month.

Linda Peck

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8 p.m.

On second though, give all of the money back and disband yourself, DDA.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Much better idea :)

Linda Peck

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

If the DDA has so much money and so much power that it can determine these types of safety policies, they have too much. Give some of it back so we can hire more police officers, DDA.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

Give it all back -- they were never elected in the first place.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

Charge the business owners for the security they are requesting.

Boo Radley

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

The business owners are probably already paying enough in taxes, or high rents and contributions to the DDA to reasonably expect good security.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Maybe we can charge the tax payers for more cops. How about charging the UofM students for downtown cops. Go figure!


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Are the business owners requesting more police? The article doesn't mention that at all.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Maybe the DDA should just dissolve itself to free up all those skimmed tax dollars for city-wide allocation by our *elected* representatives. The whole DDA-council relationship seems upside-down to me.

Bob W

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Here, here, right on the money (no pun intended). They have the authority to tax and we have to "beg" them for assistance?? It is upside down. Get rid of the DDA and have its functions become a part of general city government.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Find the money, decision made. If you way your publics safety on budgets you lose. So unfortunatly this will get shot down but wait they found money for another stupid sculpture. Hows the parking structure coming along next to the library? Ya think this would be a no brainer after the last summer and influx in out of town criminals? Prolly would be a simple way to deter the violent panhandlers?


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 7:07 p.m.

There is a definite need for more beat cops in the downtown area: Main St, Liberty Plaza, Liberty St, State St, and William. The aggressive panhandlers need to be stopped from harassing pedestrians, including following them down the street shouting at them when they don't give them money. Liberty Plaza is not a family friendly place or a safe place, and needs to be patrolled more aggressively. The presence of police on a regular basis would go a long way toward stopping some of the bad behavior along those streets, including assaults late at night when the bar crowd is walking to their cars.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

The panhandlers were very aggressive on Wednesday. A woman on the south side of Liberty yelled across for a young man carrying a pizza box to give her a slice of the pizza. He tried to ignore her but seemed embarrassed at her loud insistence. He crossed the street, opened the box, she too a slice. I watched as she took 2 bites and threw it in the street. Then she continued blessing everyone as they walked by. Oh, a cruiser drove right past all this, the driver's head turned to his partner engaged in laughter. No notice or interest in panhandlers on all four corners including the kid beating an upside down 5 gallon bucket with a stick near Potbelly's. It was awful.