Police report calls for service up in COVID year
By Lisa Brody
Noting “the year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most difficult and challenging on record,” Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence presented the city commission with its 2020 police annual report, having received 21,167 calls for service – 630 more calls than in 2019, and over 3,200 more than in 2018.
The department continues to have 32 sworn officers.
While there were more calls for service, Clemence noted 2020 continued a trend of decreasing crime in the community, with 14 burglaries compared to 20 in 2019. There were 89 cases of fraud, versus 110 in 2019 and 139 in 2018. There were 84 larcenies, while in 2019 there were 94, and in 2018 there were 164.
There were no homicides in the city in the last three years, no cases of criminal sexual conduct I or II; in 2019, there were three, and in 2018, one case. There were 34 assaults, compared to 46 in 2019, and 51 in 2018.
Vandalism stayed the same, with 33 incidents in both 2020 and 2019; in 2018, there were 19.
There were 10 vehicle thefts in 2020, up from eight in 2019 and six in 2018.
In 2020, new measures were undertaken to improve the police agency to meet new and changing roles and demands in order to safeguard the rights of all citizens. Clemence reported they initiated a two-year project for department accreditation through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP). All officers now wear body cameras while on patrol.
“Areas of concern in police reforms (chokeholds, duty to intervene, de-escalation training, use of force reporting, use of force continuum, bias-based policing, early intervention policy for potential problem officers) were all examined to ensure that all police department policies and procedures clearly addressed reform issues,” he said.
New projects for 2021 include examining mental health related service calls in the community, including methodologies utilized; the creation, development and implement of an interlocal agreement between the city of Birmingham, the township of Bloomfield and the city of Auburn Hills to collaborate with the Oakland Community Health Network to provide for a full-time social worker to be exclusively assigned to the aforementioned communities, with the cost of the social worker shared equally between the three communities; and assessing options to train at least 20 percent of Birmingham police officers in advanced crisis handling.
“Social unrest following a number of high profile police incidents strained community bonds and heightened racial tension… The men and women of the police department work diligently to keep Birmingham a safe and welcoming community. Officers of the department are highly trained, educated and professional individuals,” Clemence said.