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Posted on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Police coverage may be down, but Ann Arbor remains a safe town

By Guest Column

Editor's note: The spelling of Ed Davidson's last name has been corrected.

Reading Stephen Ranzini’s recent op-ed piece (“Ann Arbor lacks adequate policing levels to keep the city safe”) gives the wrong impression that downtown Ann Arbor is unsafe. He has no statistics to back it up.

I was informed that people have to look at the long- and short-term statistics to come to a reasonable conclusion. The actual statistics are favorable, according to the Ann Arbor Police Department.

060712_ed-davison.jpg

Ed Davidson owns the Bivouac store on South State Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

File photo

There is no question that our police force needs to be reinstated to its former level of staffing so that coverage and response times are more in tune with the city’s needs. There is no argument that street level policing (foot patrols, bike cops) influence and thwart miscreant activities before a crime can be committed.

However, beat cops aren’t only crime fighters, they are very important ambassadors the City of Ann Arbor has. A beat cop on the street increases people’s perception of safety, they are around to answer questions, they are there in a pinch for an emergency. Beefing up police staff cut by previous budgets in the police department would further support the entire city community -- a community that is wonderfully healthy and vibrant.

As a State Street Merchant for more than 40 years, I have seen very little change in the landscape in terms of the number of panhandlers and petty/violent crimes. The only recent changes have been in the decreased level of police coverage (which, as stated above, needs to be returned to its former levels). I question (Stephen Ranzini’s) editorial for which stats for Pinckney and Livingston County are quoted. If a headline is declaring “Ann Arbor lacks adequate policing to keep city safe,” I would like to see statistics directly relating to Ann Arbor -- not Washtenaw County (as a whole), Livingston County, or Detroit, etc. Yes, we are interconnected, but to have an informed conversation about one specific city using statistics from other cities seems a bit sensational. Give us stats for Ann Arbor. Then let’s have a conversation.

I frequent downtown and attend movies, restaurants and music venues. I shop. I enjoy the many public events held throughout the year. I see many other people downtown, enjoying the same. Opinion pieces such as this only serve to fear monger, and steer people away from supporting local merchants, restaurants, artists, musicians, etc.

Don’t kill the vibrancy of Ann Arbor with ill informed “facts.”

Ed Davidson is the owner of Bivouac store in downtown Ann Arbor and has been a State Street merchant for more than 40 years.

Comments

CPLtownie

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

Bottom line, is that beat cops spend their time 'herding cats' so to speak. Walked home at 10pm last night and a bunch of dudes sitting on upturned milk crates right on the old Parthenon doorstep. I refuse to cross the street to avoid them. I refuse to be intimidated. But let's face it, with beat cops, the setting up shop like that isn't going to happen - they will keep them moving along, which is exactly what we need downtown. No beat cops, and the street people will set up and take over an entire area of sidewalk. And that will prevent many people from venturing downtown - if more people would stand up for their town, the majority would rule. So Ann Arborites, which majority will you let win your downtown?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

@Robert Hughes: Dave is correct, the stats show that burglaries for example, and rapes are up over the past 10 years, substantially. A lot of the decreas in crime is due to a decreas in car thefts. As noted above drug abuse statistics show a rise & most crime is driven by illegal drug users' need for immediate cash. I wrote the following about crime rates in my column. Mr. Ed Davison is ignoring the statistics I provided in my column. In analyzing the stats, I noted that the details of which crimes are down and which are up, are important. "Since 2002, part 1 crimes have gone down from 3,770 to 2,758. That is 73 percent of the 2002 level. While local officials proudly note that crime has been trending down, this is part of a well known movement nationwide and the size of the drop locally has lagged behind drops in crime in the rest of Michigan." "Also of note, the decrease in crimes in our county was solely due to a decrease in vehicle thefts (part of a nationwide trend due to improved car anti-theft technology. Rapes had a significant increase (160 vs. 128) and most other categories except burglaries (2,446 vs. 2,005) had a small decrease." "More recent reports indicate a reversal of the trend toward lower rates of crime, confirmed to me by interim Police Chief John Seto. I believe that this is based on a wave of increased illegal drug usage, including increased heroin usage driven by inexpensive exports flooding in from Afghanistan, which supplies most of the world's heroin. Most crime is driven by an urgent desire for money to buy illegal hard drugs. The wave of heroin usage locally is severe." Fewer professional car thieves, but more burglars, rapists, heroin and Oxycontin users doing small time crime to steal their next hit doesn't sound like a good trade off to me and my family. But hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Feel free to add yours. At least I am got the discussion going on what we need and why.

Dave

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Really? Its still a safe town? As a resident in Ann Arbor for the past 30 years. I can say Ann Arbor is not what it once was. You cannot let your children out to ride their bikes on their own. People walk by and throw bottles and garbage on the sidewalks, women are raped downtown (a suspect has still not been caught), people are assaulted and robbed at gunpoint around South University and in the Off Campus Housing Area. If you want statistics, read Ann Arbor.com or the Michigan Daily. Is it as bad as other places in the nation? No, but it is a much different town then it once was. A bank was robbed down by Packard and Eisenhower where criminals discharged their weapons. The bank at Packard and Stadium has been robbed numerous times, not to mention the family business on Plymouth road that has been robbed multiple times as well. Just this morning a bank on Carpenter Road was robbed. Ann Arbor and the surrounding area is indeed in need of more Police. But I guess the Art projects to make downtown look nicer will scare away criminals. All this writer is thinking about is his bottom line, not the community as a whole.

Robert Hughes

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

There has always been a similar level of crime in this city; in my opinion. If you have a webpage with stats to back up your opinion, Dave, I'd love to see it. Thanks! (I've lived here for forty years.)

Lisa

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

Wow thank you for the article I was basically called a liar when I called 911 for an accident and they said 2 1/2 hours to arrive when I had just passed 2 motorcycle cops on their bikes?? hmmmm Oh the lady and her child badly injured .Yet when I pick my son up from Huron High School there are 6-8 patrol cars all over .Who is patrolling our streets. Didn't we just have an incident where 2 officers had to come from Ellsworth to Maple Rd for a shooting and injured in the process instead you wish to intimidate and manipulate our teens in their school. Why so much patrolling of our teens and racial profiling really needs to stop. All the corruptness of this town needs to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its time to become the community we once were?? Ann Arbor HAS NO MORE COMMUNITY ONLY A FEW SUBDIVISIONS LEFT.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

"Officials link an increase in prescription drug abuse to a rise in the use of heroin as well, as many individuals addicted to drugs like Oxycontin are known to turn to heroin for a cheaper way to get their fix. Single doses of heroin are more potent and less expensive than the pills whose effects they mimic." "About 13.8 percent of 17-year-olds in the county admitted to taking a prescription drug like Oxycontin, Codeine, Percocet, Vicodin or Tylenol III without a doctor's prescription, according to a 2010 survey." See: http://annarbor.com/news/officials-prescription-drug-abusers-younger-than-ever/?cmpid=NL_DH_topicbox_headline

observer

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

Wait until they break into his business.....do u think he is a supporter of the current mayor and city council....just a thought........

ordmad

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:51 a.m.

I've lived and worked downtown for nearly 13 years. It's as safe as its ever been and the stats unequivocally show that. Perhaps those arguing against the uncontroverted facts are more fearful because this rag reports every minor crime, often with the journalistic integrity of the New York Post.

Ricebrnr

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

"...are more fearful because this rag reports every minor crime," I dispute that. Not only do I have the word of people in AAPD that this "rag" indeed DOES NOT print everything but also email alerts from Nixle/Crimestoppers daily that have more items of all types than I see in here. In fact I specifically noted one day earlier this year where there were 13 Ann Arbor related incidents and not a single one was noted here...

Mitch

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

Of course my only reason would be the Bivouac.

Mitch

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

Sorry, I have no interest in going downtown. Especially with all the pan handlers.

RoboLogic

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

A2PD needs 2x the cars they have out after dark. Its fairly safe unless you are a 16-27 yr old walking around campus carrying valuables e.g. Laptop, iPad, iPod, etc, and you are targeted b/c the perp profiled you as weak and vulnerable. Its not good enough. I am not from A2 but I know the citizens of Ann Arbor have paid exorbitant property taxes for decades and where is the public safety associated with these taxes? It used to be real good. I am from Tecumseh; a high tax town (less than A2, but high nonetheless), and we have excellent Police service. Any crap goes down here, and TPD is on it like flies on dung. We get our moneys worth...why cant A2? This is a shame that needs attention...pronto!

JRW

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Mr. Davison writes: "Opinion pieces such as this only serve to fear monger, and steer people away from supporting local merchants, restaurants, artists, musicians, etc." Mr. Davison has a vested interest in trying to refute the crime increases in downtown A2. His business suffers if there is less foot traffic to his store. The crime stats in A2 are a political football, and the city as well as the UM don't want actual stats publicized since it might create a bad impression. Why aren't UM and city crime stats added together, for example, rather than being reported separately? Let's see one set of accurate crime stats, not two, which makes it look better than it is. I've lived in the city all my life, and never have I seen the number of violent assaults and robberies that are occurring in the city these last few years. The crimes are much more violent, vicious and dangerous than in the past. Additionally, Mr. Davison also does not have the number of aggressive panhandlers in front of his business that Main Street businesses have to deal with, which is good for him, but the reality is quite different on Main Street and Liberty Street.

Irwin Daniels

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

I for one am glad this is an opinion statement, I think that the response time is basically to the point of dangerous. I live on Geddes near the Arb, about 3 weeks ago some drunk started to kick in my door because he thought this was his house. It took over four calls and about 45 minutes for a police car to show up. This was at about 5:30 AM on a Monday. My child still is having nightmares and will not go out and play - she thinks that the bad man will take her away. I am not knocking the police at all but we need more, a lot more to keep the streets safe.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

Oops, the chief's name is Seto. My apologies!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

For some detailed information about the ongoing increase in drug usage and crime caused by drug addicts in our area that supports my column's conclusions, please see: http://annarbor.com/news/officials-prescription-drug-abusers-younger-than-ever/?cmpid=NL_DH_topicbox_headline Please note the following: The column I submitted originally had a quote from our Sheriff, Jerry Clayton, supporting my comment about heroin usage and other hard illegal drugs being an increasing problem, but it was cut by my editor to fit the space allotted. In the sheriff's opinion, the heroin is being sold generally on the east side of the county to users from the west side of the county. I also quoted in my column the Ann Arbor Interim Police Chief, John Pato, who had stated to me in an interview that his statistics indicate that crime in Ann Arbor is definitely up in 2012 over 2011 and I also noted the large increase in home invasion robberies noted in other articles in AnnArbor.com.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

I wrote the following about crime rates in my column. Mr. Ed Davison is ignoring the statistics I provided in my column. In analyzing the stats, I noted that the details of which crimes are down and which are up, are important. "Since 2002, part 1 crimes have gone down from 3,770 to 2,758. That is 73 percent of the 2002 level. While local officials proudly note that crime has been trending down, this is part of a well known movement nationwide and the size of the drop locally has lagged behind drops in crime in the rest of Michigan." "Also of note, the decrease in crimes in our county was solely due to a decrease in vehicle thefts (part of a nationwide trend due to improved car anti-theft technology. Rapes had a significant increase (160 vs. 128) and most other categories except burglaries (2,446 vs. 2,005) had a small decrease." "More recent reports indicate a reversal of the trend toward lower rates of crime, confirmed to me by interim Police Chief John Seto. I believe that this is based on a wave of increased illegal drug usage, including increased heroin usage driven by inexpensive exports flooding in from Afghanistan, which supplies most of the world's heroin. Most crime is driven by an urgent desire for money to buy illegal hard drugs. The wave of heroin usage locally is severe." Fewer professional car thieves, but more burglars, rapists, heroin and Oxycontin users doing small time crime to steal their next hit doesn't sound like a good trade off to me and my family. But hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Feel free to add yours. At least I am got the discussion going on what we need and why.

Peter

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

My statistics and anecdotes, which I ASSURE YOU EXIST, say you're wrong.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 11 a.m.

Yes, I am sorry about the mispelling the interim chief's name! I was typing too fast...

observer

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

Stephen, it John SETO, he deserves the correct spelling, believe me.....

Top Cat

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Much of the criminal element avoids Ann Arbor as they fear the Birkenstock Yuppies brandishing their Swiss Army knives.

Linda Peck

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Yes, I must also be hysterical in saying that I don't feel safe to walk about alone in the evening after dusk in my own lovely neighborhood, and I don't feel safe walking day or night alone in our beautiful wooded parks.

JRW

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

The parks are definitely becoming a problem. I was with a couple friends walking in several parks during May this year, and in several instances, we changed our route when we encountered groups of individuals hanging around the parks, with some sitting alone in black SUVs with heavily tinted windows, barely visible, and others are walking around but clearly are not in the park for recreational purposes to enjoy nature. My friends and I have regularly walked in area parks for 25 years and have never seen questionable individuals hanging out, appearing to look for "targets" to rip off in isolated situations.

northside

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Ranzini's piece was 'the sky is falling' hysterical. Thanks for providing a sane response, Ed.

towncryer

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

This could have stood alone as a piece stating how this person felt about downtown Ann Arbor/crime/police coverage, etc.... Instead it sounds very petty bringing Ranzini into it.

northside

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Petty bringing Ranzini into it? He wrote a column exaggerating the city's crime threat. This author has every right and sound reason to criticize it.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

I agree with the heart of the editorial. I would prefer our police department to be back up to previous levels but by the same token I do not feel unsafe in my city. I don't wander around down town in the wee hours however.

JRW

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

Back in the 1990's I lived on the west side near downtown, and often walked alone from downtown to my house after midnight along busy streets. I wouldn't even consider doing that these days.

smokeblwr

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

This flies in the face of the common wisdom that we need to keep our guns at hand whence entering the crime ravaged streets of Ann Arbor. Now I don't know what to think.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

If only more local businesses were to equip their staff with holstered pistols, and put their cashiers behind bullet-proof glass, not only would it be a deterrent to would-be criminals, it would also send a powerful message to law-abiding customers that Ann Arbor is self-reliant and safe. What attracts safety-minded customers more than armed employees and bullet-proof glass?!

sigdiamond

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

I'm glad someone was given the opportunity to rebut Ranzini's editorial because it was filled with completely laughable misinformation, unsubstantiated claims, intellectual dishonesty, and Reefer-Madness-era hand-wringing.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

@Northside: The editorial I submitted originally had a quote from our Sheriff Jerry Clayton supporting my comment about heroin usage being an increasing problem, but it was cut by my editor to fit the space allotted. In his opinion, the heroin is being sold generally on the east side of the county to users from the west side of the county.

northside

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

On the subject of completely laughable misinformation, unsubstantiated claims, intellectual dishonesty, and Reefer-Madness-era hand-wringing, here are some of Ranzini's finest moments: * Citing annarbor.com comments to support the claim that heroin use is rampant, * Making a big deal of Washtenaw Co. being designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, when that holds true for most counties in urban areas. HIDTAs cover 60% of the U.S. population. * Citing an anonymous parent of a student as a source on the Afghanistan-U.S. heroid connection.

Ricebrnr

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

"As a State Street Merchant for more than 40 years, I have seen very little change in the landscape in terms of the number of panhandlers and petty/violent crimes." Also of note your business benefits by being patrolled regularly by BOTH AAPD and the U of M PD since the Campus is literally across the street from you. On these pages we have commentors who have businesses on Main Street that have a...different view.

Ricebrnr

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

So you're saying that the ones I see standing on the corner outside the Diag across the street, or the ones in the cars driving by as they traverse sections of campus have no affect whatsoever on street crime in that neighborhood??? Good to know! Think how much money we can save by having NO foot or car patrols!

mixmaster

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

I've never seen a UM PD patrolling anywhere but on campus and that's from the comfort of their cars!

Ricebrnr

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

With all due respect you state "He has no statistics to back it up" and yet you have provided none either...

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

@Northside: I then quoted the Ann Arbor Interim Police Chief John Pato who had stated to me that statistics indicate that crime in Ann Arbor is definitely up in 2012 over 2011 and I also noted the large increase in home invasion robberies noted in other articles in AnnArbor.com. Please read what I wrote carefully before alleging something that isn't true.

northside

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Even Ranzini's piece didn't support his crime-is-skyrocketing argument: "Since 2002, part 1 crimes have gone down from 3,770 to 2,758. That is 73 percent of the 2002 level."

mixmaster

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

The burden of proof is on the ones making the initial claim.

Brad

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Sure has has statistics to back it up: "The actual statistics are favorable, according to the Ann Arbor Police Department." Well there you go ...

Brad

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

"but Ann Arbor remains a safe town" sure sounds like an assertion assuming facts not in evidence.

sigdiamond

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

Yeah, he should've used data from other counties and anecdotal evidence gleaned from internet message boards like Ranzini did

Peter

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

He's not making a positive assertion about something, ergo he doesn't need evidence to (not) do that.