DEARBORN — On Tuesday the Dearborn Police Department held a town hall meeting at Salina Intermediate School in the south end of the city. The meeting, which was attended by around 75 locals, discussed crime rates in the city as well as proactive initiatives and programs the Dearborn Police Department has been taking in recent years to ensure the safety of their residents.
The meeting started with Lieutenant Robinson addressing the crime statistics in the city. The Dearborn Police divide the city into eight different beats and conduct crime data in each section of the city as well as looking at crime rates overall.
Since January 1st of 2012, crime in the city is down 10 percent according to Lieutenant Robinson. Among the postive aspects highlighted was that auto theft, shoplifting and larceny were down drastically in seven out of the eight beats in the city. Only Beat 8, which is the area near Southfield, Michigan Ave, Rotunda and Military saw about a 20 percent increase in crimes.
One notable area that has seen drastic decreases in crimes is Beat 6, which is the Evergreen area that includes Fairlane Town Center, University of Michigan Dearborn and Henry Ford Community College. Lieutenant Robinson states that Dearborn Police have taken stronger initiatives to patrol that area in particular.
Among other stricter initiatives Dearborn Police have started to practice includes making more traffic stops and being stricter on possession of narcotics in the city.
"Arrests across the city are up forty percent," stated Lieutenant Robinson. "It's not that there is more crime in the city, it's that we have no tolerance for narcotics and have been bringing the narcotic suspects to jail," he added.
Lieutenant Robinson states that the arrests have gotten so strict that the city ran out of funding that was initially budgeted for prisoner housing. Another hot topic Lieutenant Robinson touched on was the controversial synthetic drugs that have been making the rounds in high school and colleges across the country and have so far resulted in the deaths of over a dozen people. These synthetic herbal like substances which many have been using as a substitute for marijuana are being sold at many local gas stations and party stores. They go by names like K2, Spice and Wicked X.
"Kids are using and smoking this stuff. We have a plan in the near future to send letters to all gas station and party store owners asking them to help us by refusing to sell these items. Residents should do their part and ask store owners to stop selling these items as well. The last thing we want is a tragedy from one of our youths who use this stuff," Lieutenant Robinson added.
Lieutenant Robinson also pointed out that since Chief Ron Haddad has been in charge of the department since December 2008, they've grown stronger relationships with surrounding cities such as Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Allen Park and Inkster.
"We are working everyday in the south end and border areas of our city with other departments. Sometimes you might see other cops from other cities in our areas. It's something that has really been facilitated by our chief and it has made a huge difference with crime rates in our city," Lieutenant Robinson added.
One program that the Dearborn Police Department offers that many residents might not be aware of is the "vacation house check program," as part of their crime prevention initiative. Residents who are going on vacation can call the department and register their house for the period they will be away. Dearborn Police will then make routine stops at the property to make sure no suspicious activity is taking place.
Another program the departments wants residents to be aware of is a communications program through a system called Nixle, which will alert residents of breaking news such as missing persons, suspects or weather emergencies. The program is used through both text messages and emails. Residents can text "48126" to the number 888777 and automatically be on the city's free text message system. Residents can also sign up with the system through email by going to www.nixle.com.
Some concerns a few residents had included cultural barriers with Dearborn Police officers. Lieutenant Robinson stated that the Department takes this issue very seriously and that it should not be overlooked. He himself was not from Dearborn but says he educated himself by interacting with residents in the city.
"My job as a police officer is to learn about the community so I can better serve them. Anytime you want to help further that, residents should offer to teach the officers something. If you come across an officer that you don't think was acting appropriately or is demeaning and against the departments core values, we want to know about it," Lieutenant Robinson added.
The department also wants its residents to know that they have a suspicious activity line, where locals can call in if they see something suspicious and report it anonymously. The number to call is 313.943.3030. The department stresses that the number should not be used in an emergency situation, in that case 911 is the number to dial.