Royal Oak Police Annual Report Shows More than Just the Numbers
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 22, 2016)
Royal Oak, MI – From rescuing ducklings from a storm drain to helping a man recreate a traffic stop as a wedding proposal – to solving murders and other crimes, the Royal Oak Police have had a busy year.
The year is documented in a 47 page 2015 Annual Report expected to be accepted by the City Commission at Monday night’s meeting.
Not only does the report give the facts and figures, it introduces the public to the department in a way that invites them to click on links for more detailed information and watch videos of the police officers in action.
The different divisions of the department are featured, giving people an inside look at the many pieces of police work they may not often think about.
For example while reading “Meet Your Midnight Shift,” one learns that officers do checks of local hotels and motel to make sure they are complying with local ordinances and to check for individuals registered who may be wanted on parole violations and arrest warrants. In 2015, these establishments were checked 142 times and resulted in 34 wanted subjects being detained.
The midnight shift also is tasked with having an engaging presence downtown, particularly on the busy weekends. Midnight shift officers are “always on watch for alcohol related driving offenses,” and they “keep a safe watch on the neighborhood and businesses during the overnight hours. While the city sleeps, officers patrol these areas for suspicious people in an effort to prevent crimes before they occur.”
Day shift officers work with the courts doing things like arraignments, prisoner transports, court-ordered fingerprinting, probation violations and processing of prisoners. They also conduct monthly checks of sex offenders to make sure they are compliant. Day shift officers also monitor key school crossings and they keep the city safe during special events.
The afternoon shift handles the largest volume of calls, and they have the busiest time for traffic.
Parking Enforcement is also part of police work. In 2015 there were 86,955 tickets issued by the police and authorized entities (238 per day avg.). That is the lowest amount since 2009 when there were 86,792. In 2014 there were 92,454.
The report says of the parking enforcement officers, “their role is often looked upon as a ‘negative service’ because no one wants to receive a ticket. However, because of their visibility, parking enforcement officers routinely have many positive contacts with the public by providing answers to questions and assistance with parking, directions, and information about the many facets of Royal Oak.”
The Criminal Investigation Division was assigned 823 cases in 2015. They obtained warrants for 49% of the cases. Over the past decade the average has been 50.8%.
In a press conference Friday, Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said he was proud of investigators in their handling of two homicide investigations just a couple of weeks apart. “Detectives did an outstanding job on both of them,” he said. “When you’ve got officers on a rainy, cold, miserable night in October going through sewers in Westland looking for the gun, and that moment they found it. You know their heart is in it.” Both murders involved an individual being shot by someone they knew.
Part A crime is up 5.2%. These are the crimes that the FBI considers of most serious including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny and arson.
“Although any increase is concerning, crime rates in Royal Oak are still very low as our crime rates have dropped steadily over the last two decades,” Chief O’Donohue said in the report and in the press conference. “In 2015, we had new record lows in assaults, motor vehicle thefts and robberies. We did, however, see an increase in home invasions from 78 in 2014 to 97 in 2015, but these numbers are still considerably lower than in previous years.”
When looking at spikes in home invasion reports, Chief O’Donohue said they usually tend to happen in clusters, and in one geographic area. “For the home invasions there were six different cases that contributed to the increases,” he said. “When you have a spike it’s usually a crew or a person, usually an addict.”
According to the report, in 2006 there were 6,104 crimes reported to the FBI. In 2015 there were 3,616. “A lot of increase in ID theft and nonviolent crimes. Any increase is a concern and we’re on top of it. But I don’t think this is any kind of a trend,” he said. “There’s a point of how low can it possibly be?”
When asked if there were any places with higher concentrations of crime, the Chief talked about the care put into patrolling the Downtown, and the challenges with athletic clubs such as LA Fitness.
“Anywhere there are gyms there are more larcenies. Fitness clubs are target rich anyways – people bring their wallets and phones, but they need somewhere to keep them while they work out. So they’re either leaving them in their car which is a risk, or they’re putting them in locker rooms where it is easy to steal. And we don’t ever want to blame the victim because stealing is stealing, but in a lot of these cases people are leaving their phones or wallets on the side of the court while they’re shooting hoops for a couple of hours, and they come back and their stuff is gone,” he said. “Their location right off the freeway makes them a target. You can get away so quickly.” He said that the YMCA also has similar incidents.
As far as the downtown,
In addition to community policing, Royal Oak has an officer assigned to the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team which initiated 679 cases in 2015, nine of which were in Royal Oak. According to the report NET officers executed 253 search warrants, arrested 430 suspects and seized 220 firearms in their work throughout Oakland County.
In 2015 in Royal Oak there were 51.43 pounds of marijuana seized, 1.30 grams of heroin, 29.3 grams of cocaine, 135.49 units of ecstasy and 137 units of prescription pills.
Total seizures for NET are 1,960.56 pounds of marijuana, 6,621 marijuana plants, 486.9 grams of hash, 3,423.30 grams of heroin, 444.19 grams of crack cocaine, 4,499.86 grams of powder cocaine, 9,061.00 units of LSD, and 3,650.70 units of ecstasy.
Royal Oak is also part of the Southeast Oakland SWAT Team which also includes Ferndale, Madison Heights, Berkley and Hazel Park. In 2015 the team was called in seven situations: 4 barricaded gunman calls and 3 high risk search warrants.
ROPD has a School Liaison Officer who has many duties including investigating juvenile runaway situations, doing classroom presentations, coordinating with groups like Community Coalition and Youth Assistance and maintaining school camera system.
In 2015 the School Liasion Officer had 51 cases assigned, attended three disciplinary interviews, collected $1,650 in restitution, had 26 diversion cases and attended 7 expulsion hearings.
The ROPD also has a Professional Standards Unit whose job is to interview applicants, handle background investigations, internal investigations, coordination of departmental training and field training, special events permits and Liquor Control Commission investigations.
Other department tasks include involvement in the Southeast Michigan Financial Crimes Task Force, Safe Streets Task Force, Auxiliary Police Program, police on motorcycles and bicycles, Honor Guard Unit, and special details for events like Arts, Beats & Eats and Woodward Dream Cruise.
The report reflects what Chief O’Donohue calls pride in his department, and a desire to combat some of the negative images people see of police officers. “The national conversation is not positive about police work,” he said. “Individual officers that go out every day have a very difficult job. They decisions they have to make are very hard…. For such a young department the positive momentum we have going here is exciting. We’re hiring the right people and putting them in an environment they can succeed, but where there’s a high level of accountability.”
Residents who are concerned about crime are encouraged to get involved in the community. They can get to know their neighbors and even join or form a neighborhood group. There is a Police Auxiliary volunteer group. The City hosts a Citizens Police Academy. And there is reporting and discussion on crimemapping.com. Those wanting to get involved can contact the Royal Oak Police at (248) 246-3530
The report will have a more obvious page on the website following the meeting, but for now it can be viewed as part of the City Commission agenda at http://romi.gov/webfm_send/4576.
Royal Oak Police Annual Report Shows More than Just the Numbers