Stories indexed with the term ‘crime’

Column: More Context for Police Lawsuit

On May 19, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in federal district court against the city of Ann Arbor and three Ann Arbor police detectives who were working to solve an armed robbery that took place about two years earlier – on April 9, 2012. The plaintiff in the federal lawsuit is Joseph Bailey, who was a suspect arrested by the AAPD for the Broadway Party Store robbery.

The Broadway Party Store, on the east side of the Broadway bridges, was robbed in April 2012. The suspect arrested for the crime, but not prosecuted for it, has filed a lawsuit against the three Ann Arbor detectives who worked the case.

The Broadway Party Store, on the east side of the Broadway bridges, was robbed in April 2012. The suspect arrested for the crime, but not prosecuted for it, has filed a lawsuit against the three Ann Arbor detectives who worked the case.

It was a high-profile case, as the security camera’s footage from the robbery was featured on Detroit TV news. The video captured the drama of a man wearing a skeleton mask, pointing a sawed-off shotgun at the store owner.

Bailey was charged with the robbery: After a preliminary examination conducted by judge Christopher Easthope at the 15th District Court, Bailey was bound over to stand trial in the 22nd Circuit Court before judge Melinda Morris.

From the time of his arrest at the end of May 2012, Bailey spent roughly 6 months in jail, before being released in November 2012. He wound up not being prosecuted for the robbery, because the prosecutor’s office concluded that Bailey’s guilt could not be established beyond a reasonable doubt at that time. Bailey did plead guilty to resisting or obstructing a police officer. And for that Morris sentenced him to 6 months in jail. Court records indicate that Bailey was already credited with serving 191 days – more than 6 months.

The federal lawsuit was filed nearly three weeks ago, but apparently still has not been served upon the city or the three detectives. It alleges various violations of Bailey’s basic rights by the detectives who worked the case, and contends that their actions caused him to be falsely imprisoned. [.pdf of complaint]

The Chronicle does not systematically cover crime or the courts. But we do occasionally write about those topics when they intersect with our other regular coverage of governmental units.

In this instance, the first point of intersection came in the course of looking up information on Bob Dascola’s election lawsuit. The ruling on Dascola’s case was filed in the federal court’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system on May 20, 2014. We don’t always look up cases on PACER in a way that is most efficient as measured by the number of steps – which would be to note the case number and enter that information into the search form. If you instead search by cases in which Ann Arbor is a defendant, you have a chance to notice cases other than the one you’re looking up. So it was that we noticed Bailey had filed a case in federal court against the city on May 19.

The second point of intersection is that we’d reported the public commentary of the robbery victim at the city council’s May 21, 2012 meeting. And we’d also reported the city administrator’s public congratulation of the police department at the council’s subsequent meeting, on June 4, 2012 meeting – for making an arrest in the Broadway Party Store robbery.

Finally, given that Bailey’s lawsuit has been filed as a public document in the federal court system, we think it would serve the public interest to add context to some of the allegations included in the complaint.

The context added below is also drawn from public documents – court records (obtained through a standard in-person request) and police records (obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request). First, we present a summary of some issues that the two sides could dispute – if the case is litigated. After that a timeline of events is provided. [Full Story]

CrimeView Software Helps Ann Arbor Police

The city of Ann Arbor recently won a technology achievement award from The Public Technology Institute – for the city’s integration of a piece of software called CrimeView Dashboard into police operations. The distinction was mentioned in city administrator Steve Powers’ Sept. 3, 2013 written report to the city council, which was attached to the council’s packet as a standard part of the agenda template.

Crime Mapping

Screenshot from (Image links to

CrimeView Dashboard is an Omega Group software product used internally by the Ann Arbor police department to help solve crimes. CrimeView is far more robust than Omega Group’s publicly available, web-based, which provides citizens with crime maps based on data from the most recent six months.

In a phone interview with Chris Baldwin, Omega Group account manager for Ann Arbor, he told The Chronicle Omega views the company’s relationship with AAPD as a partnership. The publicly available tool, Baldwin said, is relatively lightweight compared to the tools available in CrimeView, but is still useful for educating and informing the public.

As one example of the difference, gives locations by street blocks, whereas the AAPD has access to the exact street address.

Through CrimeView, AAPD officers also have access to data on all calls for service, not just on the verified incidents. In a telephone interview, AAPD deputy chief Greg Bazick explained that a call for service is not automatically logged as an incident. The call initiates the report, but then it’s reviewed and validated – which means that, in the view of AAPD staff, an incident meeting the description took place. It’s those validated incidents that appear on

CrimeView allows officers to set up and save standard data queries so that trends and patterns can be spotted, which can drive decisions about how to deploy resources with an eye toward solving crimes. Bazick described how CrimeView played a supporting role in a recent series of home invasions (breaking and entering). That effort involved sharing information with Pittsfield Township,, which also uses the CrimeView Dashboard.

CrimeView was used to plot reported crimes by date, time and location. Because AAPD had the suspect’s home address, known associates, and knew the suspect had no regular access to a vehicle, AAPD could identify the pattern of home invasions geographically, by day of week, and hour of the day, Bazik said. While CrimeView didn’t itself solve the crime, it saved a lot of time compared to the effort it would have taken to compile the information manually.

Bazik described the AAPD as still in the early stages of learning and using the CrimeView Dashboard tool. It’s part of the AAPD’s broader effort to take a data-driven approach to decision making.

That broader effort includes a project that takes a digital approach to officer activity reports. Having easily analyzable data about how officers are spending their time will allow the AAPD to provide a metric that’s important for measuring success in public safety as defined by the Ann Arbor city council. The description of public safety success, developed by the council at a December 2012 retreat, reads in part: “Police officers have between 25-30% of their time available for proactive policing.”

The AAPD started using electronic data sheets for officer activity logs around the beginning of the year. At the council’s July 15, 2013 meeting, AAPD chief John Seto told councilmembers that the department was doing the initial analysis of data that’s been recorded so far. Responding to an emailed query in late August, Seto wrote to The Chronicle that the analysis of timesheets would be reported to the city council sometime in the near future.

At the July 15 council meeting, Seto also briefed councilmembers on the somewhat downward trend for overall crime for the first six months of 2013, compared with the first six months of 2012. For example, based on the publicly available data from for the additional month of July, The Chronicle counted 249 breaking-and-entering (forced and unforced entry) incidents from January-July 2013, compared to 295 for the same period in 2012.

Slightly more detail on the breaking-and-entering data is provided after the jump. [Full Story]

A2: Homicide

The Detroit Free Press is among the media outlets reporting that a University of Michigan medical student’s death is being investigated as a homicide. Paul DeWolf was found dead in the Phi Rho Sigma house on Wednesday morning, July 24. If you have information about the incident, contact the Ann Arbor police department’s tip line at 734-794-6939 or, or call Crime Stoppers at 800-773-2587. [Source]

Despite Concerns, North Maple Housing OK’d

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 20, 2012): After raising a series of concerns about a new residential development on North Maple Road, a majority of planning commissioners recommended it for approval on a 6-2 vote.

Public hearing sign posted for the proposed Maple Cove housing project

A public hearing sign posted at the site of the proposed Maple Cove residential development on North Maple, north of Miller Road on the city's west side. The project includes seven single-family homes and two apartment buildings. (Photos by the writer.)

The Maple Cove Apartments & Village development is proposed on nearly 3 acres at 1649 N. Maple, north of Miller Road on the west side of North Maple. It would consist of a small court with seven single-family homes, as well as two 3-story apartment buildings each with 18 one-and two-bedroom apartments. There will be two separate entrances off of North Maple – one for the houses, and another for the apartments. This was one of the issues raised by commissioners, as several of them preferred a single entrance to minimize conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.

Pedestrian safety was also a concern for the drive into the single-family housing section of the development – there are no plans for a sidewalk on that street. Another concern raised by a neighbor during the public hearing – and echoed by some commissioners – was the potential for crime at the apartments, and whether crime data from nearby complexes should be requested to help evaluate the Maple Cove project. Tony Derezinski, a city councilmember who also serves on the planning commission, called using crime data as one of the criteria for approval a “slippery slope” and advised against it.

The possibility was floated to postpone action on the project until some of these concerns could be addressed, but no one made a formal motion to that effect. Brad Moore, a representative for the developer, pointed out that the project as proposed conforms with the city’s zoning ordinances.

Voting against the project were Bonnie Bona and Eric Mahler. The site plan will now be considered by the city council for approval.

Commissioners dispatched a second project on the agenda relatively quickly. After posing a few minor questions, they unanimously recommended approval of a new pump station at the city’s water treatment plant, on Sunset east of Newport Road. [Full Story]

UM Public Crime Meeting Planned for March 29

The University of Michigan department of public safety‘s March 29, 2012 crime meeting will be open to the public, including university students, faculty, staff and members of the general public. The meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Michigan Union Pendleton Room.

DPS shift supervisors and officers involved in crime investigations, as well as representatives from housing security and hospital security, will be present to review recent major crime activity and trends, current criminal investigations and crime prevention strategies. There will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions, raise concerns or make suggestions, according to a university press release. This will be the final public session for the current academic year.

Ann Arbor Budget Outlook OK, CFO Cautious

Ann Arbor city council working session (Feb. 13, 2012): At a working session last Monday, the council took its first look at the budget for fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1, 2012. Continued from a budget committee meeting on Dec. 12, 2011 was the theme that this year is the second year of a two-year planning cycle – and the city financial staff are approaching it that way.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Crawford

City of Ann Arbor chief financial officer Tom Crawford before the Feb. 13, 2012 working session. (Photos by the writer.)

With the exception of one significant change – adding one police officer instead of cutting nine – the blueprint for this year’s budget will, with some slight revisions, follow the plan put in place last year. That includes a plan to eliminate five firefighter positions, pending labor negotiations with the firefighters union.

At the December budget committee meeting, city administrator Steve Powers described this year as taking a “breather” – while stressing that the review of the organization is an ongoing process.

The relative luxury of essentially following the second year of a two-year plan is made possible this year by positive news and outcomes on several fronts.

But at Monday’s working session, the city’s chief financial officer, Tom Crawford, urged a cautious approach, given pending uncertainties about the basic structure of funding local governments in Michigan. Among those uncertainties is the future of the personal property tax, which could drop the city’s general fund revenue by $1.76 million, if that tax were to disappear completely. He advised the council not to use one-time positive outcomes to increase expenditures. Instead, he recommended that the city should strive to increase its fund balance reserve to 15-20% of expenditures – it currently stands around 13%, or $10.5 million. The general fund budget for the city this year calls for $78,321,015 in expenditures.

One of those positive outcomes is the retiree health care funding level for FY 2013, recommended by the city’s actuary – $12.4 million. The city’s planned cost for FY 2013 was $15.3 million. But Crawford is recommending that all but $400,000 of that $2.9 million savings should continue to be paid into the city’s voluntary employees beneficiary association (VEBA), to reduce unfunded liabilities and to guard against future liabilities. The potential $2.9 million savings is a citywide figure.

But as a result of another VEBA-related policy choice that Crawford is recommending, the city’s general fund – out of which basic services like police, fire, planning, and the like are paid – would see a roughly $1 million boost. That policy change would start treating retiree health care as a true pre-funded system, instead of the current pay-as-you-go hybrid. The current hybrid pay-as-you-go approach places a higher burden on those funds that have a relatively large number of associated retirees – workers who were paid out of that fund while they worked for the city. [As of December 2011, the city's general fund had 366 active employees and 532 retirees.] Crawford’s recommended approach focuses on the gaps in pre-funding, which puts the financial burden where most of the liability is currently accruing – active employees. And that would translate to a $1 million general fund savings, compared to the current approach.

Crawford put specific pieces of positive budget news in the context of general positive news, suggesting that the city has now seen the worst of the 2008 economic downturn. Unemployment numbers are dropping – in the Ann Arbor area, unemployment stood at 5.5% in December. And state sales tax receipts are coming off depressed levels – that’s important, because the “revenue” in state shared revenue (the amount the state distributes to local units of government) comes from state sales tax receipts.

Among the specific pieces of positive news Crawford presented to the council was the expectation that the city would break even on the current budget year (FY 2012), which ends June 30, 2012. The city had expected to tap the general fund reserve for $1.1 million this year. In the previous year (FY 2011), the city also essentially broke even, when it had anticipated needing to spend $1.5 million from its fund balance reserve.

Compared to what was anticipated in the two-year plan for FY 2013, on the revenue side several categories are expected to increase. Additional expenses, compared to the two-year plan, include adding a police officer instead of eliminating nine positions.

The net effect of all the changes from the two-year plan is a $1.6 million surplus of recurring revenues against recurring expenses for FY 2013. Of that surplus, Crawford is recommending that the council allocate $150,000 for a pilot program for recruiting police officers. But the rest he’s advising the council to add to the fund balance reserve to guard against leaner years projected in FY 2015-16.

The police recruitment program would allow potential hires to work under the direction of an Ann Arbor police officer before being hired on as a sworn officer. The program’s rationale was described by police chief Barnett Jones at the Feb. 13 working session as stemming from the hiring process to fill nine officer positions that came open at the end of 2011, due to retirements.

Jones gave a presentation of year-end crime reports showing that crime in major categories is trending down for Ann Arbor. Despite the net gain of 10 officers now anticipated for FY 2013, compared to the AAPD staffing levels in the two-year plan, the department’s 118 sworn officers leave Jones 32 short of the 150 that he described at the working session as the “perfect” number of officers for Ann Arbor.

After the jump, this article includes charts and graphs of crime reports, more detail on the impact of retiree health care on the budget, the budget outlook for FY 2013, and the city council’s work schedule for ratifying the FY 2013 in late May. [Full Story]

Council Preview: Development, Email

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday caucus (Sept. 20, 2009): It’s a caucus worth attending when the editor of The Ann Arbor Observer gives the assembly a personal glimpse into a recent spate of  break-ins on the northwest side of the city: burglars of a neighboring property left something interesting behind in his backyard.

But the city council’s Sunday night caucus again found Mayor John Hieftje offering what’s become a customary explanation to the public for the absence of the majority of council members: many of them have family obligations, and it’s not a required meeting of council.

So along with Hieftje, it was only Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Mike Anglin (Ward 2 Ward 5) who heard brief remarks from residents and the development team on the subject of the Near North affordable housing development on North Main Street. The City Place development team – which is bringing its “matter of right” proposal for housing on South Fifth Avenue back to council – also made themselves available for questions from councilmembers.

Council received an update from Alan Haber, who reported that a group of citizens had met and resolved to respond to the city’s request for proposals for development on top of the underground parking structure to be built along Fifth Avenue.

Finally, the council had no further updates on the communication the city clerk has received from her counterpart with the county, to the effect that revisions to the charter amendment ballot language they approved at their last meeting could not be accommodated – they missed the Aug. 25 deadline. [Full Story]