Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

A2's violent crimes up 35% in 2005

13. June 2006 • Murph
Email this article

The Ann Arbor News reports that the City saw a 35% increase in violent crimes (assault, robbery, rape, murder, burglary, motor vehicle theft) in 2005 relative to 2004; 2004’s total had been down 10% from the previous year.

Police attributed a 28 percent spike in robberies and a 32 percent increase in aggravated assaults to a four-month crime spree in which a loosely-knit gang was targeting men on downtown streets. The department formed a crisis response unit to address the problem, and the robbery numbers have decreased.

Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said police identified a group of men believed to be responsible for more than 30 robberies and assaults.

“It created quite a spike in those numbers and was alarming,’’ Kinsey said. “I believe last year was an anomaly because the numbers are going back down again.’’

The forcible rape numbers jumped from 18 in 2004 to 38 last year. Police were unable to explain what caused those numbers to rise but said the vast majority of reported rapes involve acquaintances.

Relatedly, the DDA’s downtown benchmarking report (pdf), released in January, shows a roughly 50% increase in major crimes in the downtown area from 2004 to 2005, but an increase of only around 15% from 2003 to 2005. Detroit, meanwhile, experienced fewer murders in 2005 than any year since 1967.

  1. Yeah, according to what I heard on NPR, the spike in violent crimes also applies to the rest of the county.

    So the question is, why?

    I’ll throw some ideas out there. Perhaps it has to do with increased drug use (at least the use of heroin is increasing). Maybe the economy is not so rosy as those above would have us believe (I’ll put my vote for this one).

    I also wonder if it has something to do with access to resources. Where can people go when they need help, food, a job? I know that the help we provide at SOS is certainly not enough. If the community (or the government) doesn’t support people in need, what will they do?

    I don’t necessarily think that violence is a natural response to desperate situations, but . . .

    Also, at one point I heard that an increase in temperature is correlated with an increase in violence. Could global warming also be causing increased crime? Not sure if this makes any sense, but just thought I’d put it out there.

    Just some thoughts, I’d love to know what all you smart-types think.

       —Nancy Shore    Jun. 13 '06 - 10:33PM    #
  2. Doesn’t Detroit have fewer people now than in any year since 1967? Going by percentages Detroit still has more than twice the murders it did compared to ‘67 and with regards to ‘05 the city’s per-capita murder rate dipped only slightly and remained high relative to major U.S. cities.

       —FAA    Jun. 13 '06 - 10:54PM    #
  3. Well, Nancy, if you read the original artic…oh. I neglected to link it. Oops – fixed now. Aaaanyways.

    The article says that, nationally, violent crime rose 2.5% over 2004’s levels, with rape declining. (Interesting contrast to A2.) So 35% is still pretty steep.

    Personally, I don’t think the 30ish assaults around downtown were the only cause – the article doesn’t give totals, but, from the DDA’s data, I’m deriving that there were something like 1,200 major crimes in A2 (ouch) in 2005. (150ish in the DDA, and 10-15% of citywide crimes happening within the DDA.) 30 street assaults are significant enough to notice, but not nearly the whole story.

    I’m also guessing it’s partly the economy, which has continued to treat southeast Michigan pretty poorly; recidivism by early releases from regional jails might be part of it; municipal cutbacks in policing budgets and staffing levels; diversion of resources to homeland security; and, yes, continued reductions of funding levels for everything except bombing the living daylights out of certain parts of the world.

       —Murph.    Jun. 13 '06 - 10:56PM    #
  4. FAA – yup. Though the murder rate did fall faster than the population, so be glad for good news, eh?

       —Murph.    Jun. 13 '06 - 10:57PM    #
  5. Yeah, probably should have read the article. Oh well, I’ll do it when I get home. In the meantime, thanks for enlightening me, Murph.

       —Nancy Shore    Jun. 13 '06 - 11:03PM    #
  6. PS. Everybody say “welcome back” to Murph.

       —Dale    Jun. 13 '06 - 11:06PM    #
  7. Is this a scare tactic to go to JQ Public and ask for more money for the Giant Jail ? Ofcourse, it is A2 residents tax money that goes to support the crap.

       —Srini    Jun. 15 '06 - 06:44AM    #
  8. It would be just like Sheriff Minzey to orchestrate a nationwide uptick in violent crime in order to build support for The Giant Jail™, wouldn’t it?

       —Murph.    Jun. 15 '06 - 05:08PM    #
  9. Srini, are you people programmed at the factory to speak group-think, or did you get it installed later? And I’m wondering if people like you and Cahill are even capable of saying “Big Jail”? Or “Large Jail”? Or even “Enormous Jail”?

    Speaking of which, I had a nice chuckle at the recent letters to the News expressing outrage that some local burglar had been caught and released something like 56 times. “Why, why, WHY can’t we lock these people up?”

    Well, duh.

    Policing Washtenaw must be sorta like fishing in the off season.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jun. 15 '06 - 05:14PM    #
  10. To repeat: the “giant jail” stuff is completely bogus. Washtenaw County has the fewest jail beds per capita among the 83 counties in Michigan.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 15 '06 - 05:55PM    #
  11. It’s good to have the fewest jail beds per capita in the state.

    If the judges would learn to release just a few more folks on bond who haven’t been convicted of anything, the jail overcrowding “problem” would disappear. As long as the jail is used as a warehouse for the presumed innocent, we will have this artificial “problem”.

       —David Cahill    Jun. 17 '06 - 08:03PM    #
  12. Thanks David for exposing the artificial problem. What is needed is to kick a few judges out of the office in Washtenaw and this would relieve overcrowding “problem”. Except for a couple of good judges, most of the other judges in Washtenaw are a bunch of morons in my opinion.

       —Srini    Jun. 17 '06 - 11:17PM    #
  13. Srini, would you care to provide some examples / support for your thoughts? I, personally, know basically nothing about any of the judges in the County.

       —Murph.    Jun. 18 '06 - 01:04AM    #
  14. Murph, I have many examples. It would take me a long time to type it in here. I will probably put it up on one of these days. I will give you one example which David has also seen and stated it was an arrogant and illegal ruling.

    Judge Connors “sua sponte” issued an order denying Dan Diebolt entry to the courthouse except to file his motions or to argue his case. Of course, there was no violence, threat etc. Dan was conducting research on how these judges have ruled on many matters. This must have scared Connors. David Cahill stated that it was an order that had no basis in law.

    The order came out right after Dan Diebolt did some research and unearthed that one of the Friend of the Court employee “Ruth Hamstra” had lied on her application to St. Jos Mercy hospital and that she was fired from her job for that reason. Dan requested from the county, Ruth’s application for FOC job and Washtenaw county refused with a lame excuse stating that it was a Judiciary matter. She is a county employee and it should have been possible to get that application. The story goes on, I will post it on a2buzz. I have not updated a2buzz in a while, but it is time it looks like, and Connors is on the ballot! Time for some fireworks, July 4th is around the corner !


       —Srini    Jun. 18 '06 - 02:41AM    #
  15. Obviously, I don’t agree at all that the problem with the jail is “artificial”.

    Yes, Circuit Court Judges Melinda Morris and Timothy P. Connors are up for re-election this year. But both are unopposed, and the filing deadline was some time ago. In general, challengers to incumbent judges are few because the incumbents are designated on the ballot, and almost always win.

    Dan Diebolt is a very assertive father’s rights activist. I doubt he is a genuine security risk, but I have had little contact with him, and have no knowledge of the events which led to Judge Connors’ order. Court staff who have dealt with Diebolt perceive him as threatening. I don’t believe the claim that the subject of his research had anything to do with it.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 18 '06 - 09:30AM    #
  16. “Srini, would you care to provide some examples / support for your thoughts? I, personally, know basically nothing about any of the judges in the County.”

    ... but Murph, you do vote, don’t you?

    I vote and I least like voting for judges because I know very little of substance about them; they are infrequently in the news, their party affiliations are not able to be mentioned, and I just do not have the time to piece together a background of these people based on their past rulings. Is there a group who objectively report on the track records of judges? I’d follow along.

    “I will post it on a2buzz. I have not updated a2buzz in a while…”

    And what is I looked there and found a completely static site dedicated solely to blocking the Giant Giant Jail Tax, which obviously has been decided months ago. Almost nothing has been added since. This site is one of many start-up websites that disproves the Field of Dreams concept. “If you build it they will come”.

       —abc    Jun. 18 '06 - 03:38PM    #
  17. Larry, Dan Diebolt’s is not the only order by Connors which needs investigation. Connors created another order in which he blocked any of his antics (which is on tape/dvd his court room being an electronic one) being shown to the State Judiciary Committee. This order has no legal basis and David Cahill has seen that order also and agreed that the order had no basis. If Connors has nothing to hide, why not be open to showing it to the State Judiciary Committee.

    There were two people who travelled all the way from Germany and were protesting in front of the County Court house about 3 weeks ago. I will post their issues also a2buzz. just wait for a few days.

    abc, a2buzz was used very effectively to beat the Giant Jail tax. The same strategy will be used for the next election.


       —Srini    Jun. 18 '06 - 06:35PM    #
  18. abc,

    ... but Murph, you do vote, don’t you?

    I vote and I least like voting for judges because I know very little of substance about them

    Exactly my point. I vote pretty much as often as given the chance (4x yearly!) and make a practice of haranguing my friends and colleagues into doing the same. But I don’t like voting for things I don’t know enough about, and generally find myself unable to collect satisfactory information about judgeship elections. Often, if I can’t find a trusted source willing to help me learn the score1, I leave those blank. (Not too terrible a crime, since, as Larry notes, they tend to be unopposed a lot, and, in general, I refuse to vote in unopposed races unless for a write-in.)

    [1] Aforementioned goads to vote are usually accompanied by lengthy e-mails detailing my thoughts on all of the issues at hand, and links to any additional info I know of. I don’t want to ask people to vote blind, right?

    (huh. textpattern formats half my attempt to render a footnote, but not the other half.)

       —Murph.    Jun. 18 '06 - 08:03PM    #
  19. In 2004, like this year, all local judges then up for election were unopposed on the ballot (apart from one write-in who didn’t register and so whose votes didn’t count).

    So you’d have to go back to 2002, at least, to find a contested local judicial election. If you haven’t been thinking about those judge elections, it’s probably because there haven’t actually been any choices to make.

    Note well that I’m speaking here of the obscure local judgeships. Races for the state Supreme Court are always contested, but those candidates (though listed as nonpartisan on the ballot) are nominated by political parties. If you’re a Democrat, you are surely going to prefer the Democratic nominees to the Republican nominees.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 19 '06 - 05:39AM    #
  20. Larry, when does one need to register for write-in.


       —Srini    Jun. 19 '06 - 03:36PM    #
  21. Larry

    Is it not the “obscure local judgeships” who are responsible for populating our woefully small jail facilities? (I am not implying, though, that the judges are causing the crimes, just deciding which criminals get to enjoy our hospitality and for how long.) Short of camping out in the courts, how would you suggest that we (the voting public who have full time employment) make informed opinions as to who we might want to support with our vote, assuming contested elections? I, like Murph, cast my vote at all elections but votes for judges drive me crazy; it feels like a ‘door number 1’ kind of choice.

       —abc    Jun. 19 '06 - 05:24PM    #
  22. As far as I can tell, the best thing to do is support the League of Women Voters as they seem to be the only ones who attempt to give profiles of candidates. Although they are annoyingly nonpartisan so you still have to make your own decisions gleaned from the judge’s short responses to the questions and personal information rather than party identification.

       —Juliew    Jun. 19 '06 - 08:03PM    #
  23. The new law sets the deadline for registering as a write-in candidate as being the 2nd Friday before the election. I strongly disagree with this law, but it is the law.

    Each of the local judges has a different style and approach and a long track record. Ask some active attorneys and you will get an earful.

    Again, though, one reason you hear so little about the judges is that they are typically unopposed for re-election. If a race were to be contested, there would be a lot more media attention to the challenged judge’s record and views, as well as that of the challenger, of course.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 19 '06 - 08:14PM    #
  24. Norm Sinclair and Ron Hansen of Detroit News can throw some good light on Judge Connors and Washtenaw county courts. I will certainly post details on

    I have not personally seen League of Women voters giving any real fact based analysis. I watched a debate conducted by L Of W for an Oakland county court judge during the last election. There were no serious questions asked (mostly soft balls were thrown to hit home runs) and no background analysis based questions were asked either.

    Many attorneys don’t speak out for fear of losing their cases in front of the judges. Even fraudulent judges are spoken of highly by attorneys.

    Larry might disagree with the law, and everyone has a right to their opinion. In my opinion the law regarding 2nd friday for registering as a write-in candidate is great.


       —Srini    Jun. 20 '06 - 08:30AM    #
  25. Sure, some lawyers are very diplomatic, and probably few would be willing go on TV or be quoted in the newspaper openly criticizing a judge. But they talk about the judges all the time.

    Ten years ago, write-ins could be made on election day with no prior registration. Five years ago, they started requiring write-in candidates to register the Friday before the election, or their votes are not counted. Now, it’s the second Friday before the election. Write-ins are inconvenient to count and potentially threatening to incumbents. The ultimate result will be not to allow write-in votes at all.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 20 '06 - 05:41PM    #
  26. Has Michign ever considered emulating Oregon’s voter guide. I know that when I lived there this provided some insight into non-partisan candidate views (limited as it was).

    Here’s an example:

       —jeph    Jun. 21 '06 - 06:52AM    #
  27. Nope, there has never been any such thing as an election booklet or official voter guide in Michigan. When you mention the idea, people get vapors over what the postage would cost.

    Indeed, in past years, distributing sample ballots was one of my favorite campaign tactics. Michigan has a whole lot of elected offices (my personal vote, here in Ann Arbor, bears on almost 100 positions!), and voters are often thirsty for some indication of what they will be voting on.

    But technology, as usual, is a step ahead. In general elections, the Michigan Publius web site has a database of voters and will display your personal ballot, including links to candidate web sites.

    Of course judicial campaign web sites, when they exist, will be uselessly coy and bland.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 21 '06 - 07:10AM    #
  28. In Oregon the guides weren’t mailed at first… but made available in public places like libraries and post offices (much like our dreaded tax booklets). Mailing came later. Then, of course, the state adopted ‘vote-by-mail’ and voter participation increased dramatically (even in off year elections).

    Furthermore Oregon (no stranger to tax activism and ruthless budget restrictions) put the cost onto the candidates. Each candidate pays for their information to be included in the guide. You don’t have to put in anything but, of course, you suffer in comparison to those who do. Plus, in terms of a cost:potential audinece it was a no-brainer as a campaign investment.

    Where it became particularly useful was with regard to ballot initiatives. Boosters and opponents could and did pay for pages, allowing for specific and opposing comments to be presented.

    With the widespread use of the ‘Net the creation of such a guide in pdf form would seem cost negligable when compared to the level of information imparted to the voter.

       —jeph    Jun. 21 '06 - 07:55AM    #
  29. Larry, I am unable to understand your argument about write-in candidates, specifically “Write-ins are inconvenient to count and potentially threatening to incumbents”.

    Inconvenience to count is a bad argument for any democratic process. And, who says incumbents have a right as a heir apparent to their thrones ?

    Let us make sure we educate our Washtenaw voters about crooked Judges in Washtenaw and let the voters show that they are capable of throwing out the morons.


       —Srini    Jun. 21 '06 - 03:12PM    #
  30. Srini, your last several comments seem to me to have been fairly hostile towards Larry. As I read it, Larry is presenting (and lamenting) the reasons that the status quo is the way it is, and you’re criticizing him for personally holding those views, which I don’t think he does. In my experience, Larry is one of the best friends of ballot access, process transparency, and general electoral openness that we’ve got around here.

       —Murph.    Jun. 21 '06 - 03:49PM    #
  31. Murph wrote: ”... and you’re critcizing [Kestenbaum] for personally holding those views, which I don’t think he does.”

    Yes, I read “strongly disagree with this law” as disagreement with the second-Friday-before registration, not disagreement with allowing write-in’s per se. And I read ‘ultimate’ in, “The ultimate result will be not to allow write-in votes at all,” as ‘eventual, final’ not as the ‘ultimate’ in Ultimate Fighting or Ultimate Frisbee.

       —HD    Jun. 21 '06 - 04:24PM    #
  32. Exactly. If it were up to me, write-ins would be allowed (and counted) without all these new restrictions.

    Thanks to Murph and HD for clarifying what I left opaque.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 21 '06 - 07:33PM    #
  33. Thanks for the clarification. I am sorry, I misunderstood Larry’s comments.


       —Srini    Jun. 22 '06 - 05:49AM    #