Holly Chief Explains Benefits of New Police Blotter
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 13, 2020)
Holly, MI – Having an informed community helps keep everyone safe. It’s a philosophy the Village of Holly’s new Police Chief Jerry Narsh brought with him to the job after 38 years of serving in Lake Orion (19 of those as Chief).
A key component in the quest for transparency and engagement with neighbors in the Village’s new “Police Blotter.”
The Chief’s plan is to release a weekly report with incidents that may be of interest to the public, or where the public’s help is needed. This can be anything from major crimes, to increases in crimes like car break ins, package thefts, vandalism, or drunk driving.
“We live in a safe community,” Chief Narsh said. “But we don’t live in a no-crime community. Being aware of what happens, and being vigilant, helps prevent more incidents.”
For example, people may not realize how often personal items are stolen from unlocked cars. “People will get lackadaisical and leave their wallet, their laptops, their phone or other things of value in their cars. They think if it’s in their driveway its safe,” he said.
“But there are people who do what’s called ‘car surfing,’ where they walk around pulling car door handles.” He said they often have a backpack or bag they just fill up with items and spare change they find in the unlocked cars. Though less common, home break-ins can happen the same way, with thieves looking for easy entry.
“If people know about these things happening near their neighborhood, it can remind them to lock their doors,” Narsh said.
Another benefit to the Police Blotter is that it helps encourage victims of crime to come forward.
When Narsh was Police Chief in Lake Orion there were several incidents of “dine and dash,” where people left restaurants without paying their bills. “We’d post about a dine and dash and other restaurants would call and say, ‘hey, we got hit too,” he said.
He explained that sometimes people don’t report thefts because they think it’s too much hassle for only a small amount of money. “But if they’re stealing from you chances are they’re doing it to other businesses too.”
In retail, restaurant, and bank-related crimes, cameras are an easy way to help identify suspects. And with more individuals getting security cameras at their homes, the likelihood of being caught on camera continues to grow.
“If we put a suspect’s picture out, we almost always close the case quickly,” Narsh said. “Someone they know will turn them in, usually within an hour of the post.”
While the use of suspect photos is useful in identifying culprits in certain circumstances, the Chief says he’s careful about respecting people’s privacy. “We keep the descriptions very generic and we don’t give names. It’s more about the incident than the people involved,” he said. “It’s not to embarrass people, it’s about letting the community what is going on around them.”
The blotter also “shows the type of activities officers are fact with,” Narsh said. “Quite often people don’t know what dangers our officers face.”
When asked about the Chief’s reports, Village Council President Tom McKenny said, “I like the police blotter. It’s a great tool for communicating with residents. I think a police department that engages with us promotes engagement among residents and businesses.”
The blotter goes out on Fridays, both to the Village’s email list and to their Facebook Page.