Crime statistics show crime rate in Tecumseh down eight percent

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Police officer Tom Gilbert (pictured)responds to a call regarding a dog which had been locked inside a parked car at Tecumseh Plaza. Herald file photo by Mickey Alvarado.

People will often decide to live and stay in a community for a variety of reasons, one of them being its low crime rate. The city of Tecumseh is often considered a relatively safe community. It’s not that there are no crimes committed, but the Tecumseh Police Department (TPD) works to keep the city a safe place to live and to be a presence in the community.

“When it comes to overall crime in Tecumseh, we are actually down around eight percent overall on the number of complaints that we have investigated,” said Tecumseh Police Chief Troy Stern, who added that statistics show the city to be down in overall arrests at nearly seven percent from a year ago during the same period.

“I don’t know as we are seeing as much of an upturn in crimes as what some other communities may be seeing,” Stern said, with the city being fortunate on that front. “We generally hold pretty steady on the numbers when we compare them to previous years.”

TPD arrests involving OWI (Operating While Impaired) related incidents show a slight increase over last year at this time, however.

“We had 31 arrests by Sept. 1 last year, and this year we are at 51 arrests,” said Stern. “I’d anticipate that we could see between 69 and 74 such arrests by the end of the year.”

TPD Officer Darrin Briggs received a certificate of appreciation from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in August after being nominated for its Lifesavers Award, which recognizes officers for helping keep drunk drivers off the roadways. Briggs led the department with alcohol and drug-related driving arrests in 2011 with 19 arrests.

A state website published on mlive.com lists drunk driving arrests and rank in arrests by individual agencies among 515 state departments. Tecumseh was ranked 52nd in arrests with 60 such arrests noted on the website for 2011. Adrian, which has more than twice as many officers ranked 227th with 77 reported drunk driving arrests. Chelsea, which has a similar-sized department, was ranked 358th with a total of 18 such arrests.

Stern checked his department statistics that showed 102 OWI-related arrests in 2007; 69 in 2008; 74 in 2009; 53 in 2010; and 54 in 2011.

“We did have a big up-tick back in 2007 when the blood alcohol level went from one percent to .08 percent, then we started to see some decrease,” he said. “It does look like we’re going to be up a little this year.” Tecumseh officers are visible and vigilant on area roadways to help keep impaired drivers off the roadways.

Vandalism and incidents of malicious destruction of property always exist in any community, and Tecumseh is no exception, however the numbers also show the city possibly having fewer reported incidents than last year. There were 28 such incidents in 2011, and there have been 18 so far this year.

“But that’s what gets reported,” Stern said. “It doesn’t mean it isn’t happening out there.”

Recent incidents include spray painting and destruction of a memorial site inside Indian Crossing Trails Park and graffiti there and elsewhere. Police also observed some hooded individuals running from the bathhouse at Tecumseh (“The Pit”) Park recently. Such incidents often involve youths, and Stern said the public can help if they see vandalism taking place.

“Primarily we recommend that people just be the best witness that they can as far as identification,” said Stern. “Take note of what they’re wearing, or anything that might distinguish them from anybody else, such as hair color or height — whatever might help us identify the individual — and also what type of vehicle they might be seen getting into or if they are riding a certain type of bicycle.”

Police have been known to utilize video surveillance to help catch perpetrators of such crimes, typically youths.

“We wouldn’t rule it out,” Stern said, regarding video surveillance in such areas as city parks.

Tecumseh Police also have enforcement ability over natural resource laws. The area’s DNR Conservation Officer, Rick Villareal, recently passed away. Stern said he is not sure when the officer will be replaced, which takes place through the Michigan State Police, but expects that in a county the size of Lenawee, the post will eventually be filled. He said the TPD typically called in the DNR officer to assist on cases that were out of the normal range of an officer’s expertise.

The TPD currently operates with 11 road patrol officers, 12 counting Chief Stern.

“We’re down about three officers from what we were a few years ago, which is quite common with today’s budget cuts. But we recently were able to fill two positions that we had been needing to fill, so we’re making it work,” said Stern. Officer Jay Nieman went on a medical retirement last year, and Officer Jason Helm, who had worked for the department in the past, is now back on the force. Officer Chad Rogers was on military deployment with the National Guard last year but has returned.

Three sergeants, one for each shift during the day, afternoon and evening, assist Stern with leadership duties. They are Sgt. Kelley Hissong, Sgt. Kevin DeCatur, and Sgt. Jeff Wright.

“We have a very seasoned department and don’t see a lot of turnover here,” said Stern. “Generally, we hold onto our staff here except for retirement and medical leaves, and a lot of credit for that goes to the management of the city. They take good care of their employees and that factors in. The other reason is we work for a great community, and the work environment here makes it a desirable place to work.”

The main precaution that Stern and officers frequently use is to encourage residents with reminders that it only takes a moment to lock things up, such as cars and homes, even in a small, safe town like Tecumseh.

“That doesn’t mean that cars and homes won’t be broken into, but it does create barriers,” Stern said. “It makes it a little more difficult and tends to serve as a deterrent to those who might consider crimes such as larceny of a vehicle.” He said people should also be cautions about leaving valuables out in plain sight, which can just be too tempting, since such crimes are often crimes of convenience.

“We just urge people to exercise a little caution,” Stern said.




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