Society

Michigan's Crime Rates, Police Forces Shrink Simultaneously

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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An interesting trend has been occurring in Michigan in the last decade: crime rates and police forces are both shrinking.

The findings were discovered and reported by the MLive Media Group. MLive recently concluded a decade-long analysis of crime statistics and police manpower in Michigan since 2003.

Here are a few of their findings for several large cities in Michigan:

Ann Arbor lost 31 percent of its officers, to 111. Population stayed nearly stable. Still, violent crimes dropped 11 percent; property crimes dropped 23 percent.

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Lansing lost 26 percent of its officers, falling to 187. Population fell just 4 percent. But violent crime fell 8 percent, and property crimes fell 20 percent.

Saginaw lost 22 percent of its officers, to 86, and 15 percent of its population from 2003 to 2012. But violent and property crimes dropped much more, both nearly 30 percent.

MLive offers several possible explanations for the drop in crime rates, including an aging, less violent population, better crime mapping technology and legalized abortion leading to fewer unwanted children in lower socio-economic classes.

Bob Stevenson, director of the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs, does not credit any one reason with the drop in crime rates.

“I don’t think there is one specific answer," he said. "It’s a combination of a lot of those.”

Some believe Michigan’s rising rates of gun ownership have contributed to the state’s drop in crime rates. In 2001, Michigan made it much easier for residents to carry concealed hand guns. The rise in concealed carry permit has coincided heavily with the drop in crime rates.

John Lott, an economist and pro-gun advocate, spoke recently on the states gun and crime trends.

“When you see the percent of the population with permits rising, and how Michigan has seen a very substantial increase over almost the same period of time [studied by MLive], you are looking at the fact that victims can defend themselves and also deter criminals, just as police can deter criminals,” he said.

Violent crime rates have been dropping in the nation since the early '90s. MLive asked FB-Detroit spokesman Simon Shaykhet for the bureau’s interpretation on the crime rate drop, but he did not speak extensively on the trends.

“We don’t speak as to the what and the why,” he said. “We don’t give any type of commentary as to why the numbers are going a certain way. It is a bureau thing. We’re not opinion-based in what we do. We’re just about the facts.”

Sources: MLive, WWMT