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Posted on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Before U-M had its own police team, AAPD rookies were happy to roam campus

By Rich Kinsey


The Engineering "Engine" Arch, where cop cars formerly could drive through.

Courtesy of Rich Kinsey

When I started at the Ann Arbor Police Department in 1982, the first assignment most of us rookies, just out of field training, were given was as a University of Michigan assigned patrol officer. At that time, U-M contracted the Ann Arbor Police Department for their police services. U-M did not establish their own police department until the early 1990s, according to their website.

While the Ann Arbor Police Department was under contract by the university, they provided two patrol officers 24 hours a day and two detectives.

The patrol officers split their time. One of the patrol officers walked a foot beat on Central Campus while the other was assigned a car and patrolled central and north campus as well as the area around the University Hospital. At 11 p.m. the motorized patrol unit would pick up the beat walker and from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the university car was a two-officer — or double — unit.

One of the university beat walker’s responsibilities was to report in at 525 Church St., which was the U-M Department of Public Safety’s headquarters at the time. Located on the ground level of the university parking structure, this was the mustering point for the university units of the Ann Arbor Police Department, U-M security officers, state security — which was a private security company also contracted by U-M — and liaison officers for both U-M Hospital security and U-M housing security.

The base at 525 Church, referred to on the radio as either “5-2-5” or “5-25” provided a much needed air-conditioned oasis in the summer for the overheated beat walker. Winter foot-patrol was not as bad because the Central Campus beat walker could always slip into a warm building to walk through, but in the 1980s few of the university buildings were air conditioned in the summer.

When the Central Campus beat walker arrived at 5-25, it was their job to take all the criminal reports generated on campus and transfer the information to Ann Arbor Police Department crime report forms. It was a tedious duty, but it was a nice diversion to get off your feet, out of the elements and inside for some companionship with the U-M officers.

Some fine university security officers were recruited into the Ann Arbor Police Department ranks in those days. The most notable was a sharp housing security officer named John Seto who rose to his current rank of Chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Walking a beat on Central Campus was actually enjoyable and a good way to meet many of the local characters and downtown criminals who all seemed to gravitate toward the South State Street and North University Avenue corner of the Diag. Most days and evenings were rather uneventful, but not all.

I remember one late June or July evening in the middle of freshman orientation tours when three individuals got into a fight in the middle of the Diag. One guy was stabbed pretty badly by the other two, who just sauntered slowly away. A herd of freshmen at orientation happened onto the scene just after the victim had been stabbed.

The arriving freshmen were wide-eyed as their university conductors tried to shepherd them away from the crime scene, which quickly was filling with fire trucks, police cars and an ambulance. A U-M security officer and I caught up with the suspects who were still walking with that slow “I-don’t-really-have-any-place-to-be” swagger about a block from the wide-eyed freshmen and EMS action on the Diag.

A fun part of campus motor patrol was driving through the Engineering Arch in your police car. We all enjoyed driving across the Diag sidewalks, through the Arch and arriving at the corner of South University and East University. Those motorized expeditions across the Diag were in the evening and often times occurred when the car-assigned university officer picked up the beat walker.

No matter what the time, it always drew cranky and perhaps envious sidelong glances from pedestrians. The University finally tired of such shenanigans and put up pillars and other obstacles to prevent our motor tours of the “Engine Arch.”

The university similarly got cranky and installed obstacles when we parked near the western wall of the Modern Language Building to watch for motorists running the stop sign at Washington and Thayer streets. It was a great spot, and a lot of drivers would blow right through the east-west stop signs without even considering braking.

Another stop sign we watched, from the Chemistry Building loading dock, was at North University Avenue and Fletcher Street.

One night a university unit officer was shining his spotlight around the bushes on the Diag and happened upon a very magical place. The spotlight inadvertently lit up a light sensor, which controlled the streetlights and walkway lights on the Diag. The spotlight’s bright beam hitting the sensor mimicked the sun and caused the lights to turn off on the Diag. Spotlight on — Diag lights off, spotlight off — Diag lights back on.

The secret of the magical spot passed from officer to officer, each of which had to try their hand at the magical light switch. Some officers put on dazzling light show performances that went on for several minutes as they demonstrated the secret to the delight and amusement of the next officer to be let in on the secret of the magic switch.

While an amusing pastime for officers for a while, it was not until about 10 years later, when I was speaking to a U-M detective, that I learned that security officers would report the abnormality of the Diag lights to the U-M security dispatcher. On several occasions, dispatch called electricians to check for short-circuits in the steam tunnels running under the Diag.

Whoops, who knew?

I wonder if the Diag light shows or Engine Arch motoring tours had anything to do with the U-M starting their own police department?

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbor.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who writes about crime and safety for


John of Saline

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Anyone else remember the bizarre, over-the-top reaction of campus leftists when the U did organize their own police force in the early 1990s? It was really strange. They claimed that shootings would be common and that the 30,000 bullets on order matched up with the number of students for a reason. (Target shooting to maintain proficiency never crossed their overheated minds.) When I suggested to one protester that she was overreacting, she screamed profanity at me and expressed her wish for me to get shot. Ah, feel the peace! Their slogan was "No cops, no guns, no code" (the last bit referred to a proposed code of student conduct). They tried to put a sign with that slogan across the student-section scoreboard during a football game, but other students wouldn't let them. They managed to get the sign up on the opposite scoreboard. A bunch of us, being mature college students, started a chant at that point. "More cops!" *clap clap* "Bigger guns!" *clap clap* (repeat) We got almost a whole section going, with much laughter all around, when the chant got to one of the humorless lefties--who started a fistfight over it. Seriously. AAPD quickly ended that. Anyway, 20 years later and none of the predictions of the protesters came true.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

My Pop drove his Pop's Model A through the Engineering Arch.... I tried to drive my Pop's '68 Mailbu through it, but alas... the Chevy was too wide and I had to back up all the way to North University St. You'd be surprised how people respect you and move out of the way when they see headlights coming down the sidewalk! :) True Story! /b


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

"We parked to watch for motorists running the stop light" - This pretty much sums up what is wrong with the AAPD. They have so many cops on duty that they can afford to sit around JUST IN CASE somebody commits a crime.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

It's a shame how we allocate police resources in this country. Look at our neighboring communities of Detroit and Ypsilanti. They barely have the resources to respond to citizen calls regarding burglaries, assaults, and other major crimes, yet Ann Arbor has enough police to park at stop signs in case somebody runs that particular stop sign? Perhaps police resources should be funded on the state level to insure that the higher crime communities at least get some of the police protection they need?

John of Saline

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

It's called preventing fatal accidents. Unless you think stop-sign running is OK.

Geoff Larcom

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Whoa! Mady, above, beat me to the punch. These columns, which have run in the since shortly after its inception, are a terrific compilation of local insight, history and Rich's distinct brand of experience, intelligence and sass.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Hi Geoff, mady back at you. maybe we can do a "tag-team nag"...... compile the book! Compile the Book!! COMPILE THE BOOK!!! ON MY KNEES BEGGIN'!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Always enjoy your columns, Rich and when are you going to compile these wonderful stories into that book I've been nagging you about? I promise you I'd buy it! PLEASE write this book!! PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEEEEASE!

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

Fascinating column, Rich.

Kai Petainen

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

lol the magical light switch is pretty funny....


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I think there needs to be a return to officers who walk a beat. Great public relations and additional protection.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I'm guessing that the rookies liking it worked out nicely.I know some of the older guys ( like my dad ) really didn't like dealing with the U or it's students.My dad often got a detail, that many people would think would be great.UofM football games.My dad would often be at the 50 yard line on the field ( rank maybe ? ) and he hated it.Anyway, he retired before the U got its own force

Linda Peck

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

I was a young woman on campus and I remember the young cops being around. It was reassuring. In fact, one night I was jogging down State Street, in front of Slater's Book Store and a patrol car pulled up next to me. It was late, around 11. One cop asked me where I was going. I said I was out for a run. He suggested I go back home. I took his advice. I was grateful. I will never forgot that. I got the message very quickly and he was a gentleman about it.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

So did you get to "administer some justice" upon the stabbing suspects? That was gonna be the best part and you left us hanging!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.



Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

An L5 can't read minds. I can retain and infer knowledge at a savant level, yet am unable to discern outcomes in which key facts are not revealed. As a non-L5 you probably wouldn't understand.....


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

I thought being a L5 made you smarter there smokeblwr


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

Your columns are always a bright spot of the week, a chance to reflect and sometimes chuckle.