Farmington crime: ‘We’ve never seen declines like this’

The City of Farmington broke a barrier last year, with serious crimes dropping below the 300 mark, Public Safety Director Frank Demers told council members Monday.

The 287 “Group A” crimes, down from 303 in 2014, included robberies, assaults, burglaries, larcenies, forgery, fraud, embezzlement, and narcotics crimes. Demers cited a 73 percent decrease in home invasions over the past 10 years, and an 85 percent drop in commercial burglaries during the same time frame. When he started in 1995, Demers said, the department responded to 30 or 40 home invasions in a year.

“We’ve never seen declines like this, never in the history of Farmington,” he said, noting he looked through records as far back as 1969. “I keep saying every year, how are we going to sustain this. But so far so good.”

Not all the news was as positive, however. Demers said the city experienced a 186 percent increase in the number of larcenies from vehicles, from 16 in 2014 to 53 in 2015. In the majority of cases – 86 percent – vehicle doors had been left open. Most criminals who take items from cars, he said, are “car hoppers” who go from vehicle to vehicle, looking for open doors.

“I have this conversation over and over and over again,” he said. “Keep your car doors locked and keep your valuables out of sight.”

Demers said the number of vehicle crashes are on the rise, with personal injury accidents up 19 percent over 2014. He said rear-end crashes appear to have increased and attributed that to more drivers texting and not paying attention to the road. Most crashes happen in Farmington on Fridays at 7 p.m.; the largest number of crashes happened at border intersections, like 10 Mile/Orchard Lake Road, and Grand River and Farmington Road in downtown Farmington.

Fraud cases also rose in 2015, particularly scams targeting the elderly. Demers said many seniors come to the Public Safety front desk to report falling for scams that range from non-existent sweepstakes to “IRS agents” demanding payment via Green Dot prepaid cash cards, which are untraceable. The scams are not unique to Farmington, he said, and the department is addressing the problem with public education.

While crime rates have changed, one thing hasn’t: the Department’s response time, an impressive two-and-a-half minutes.

“Our response time is phenomenal, that’s our calling card,” Demers said, “that’s what we work hard to maintain, that’s what the citizens of Farmington have come to expect.”

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