In the city of DeWitt, crime is on vacation, but not the cops

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The DeWitt Police Department does a great job with making sure they keep the city safe and crime rate low. Photo by Brendan Wilner

The DeWitt Police Department does a great job with making sure they keep the city safe and crime rate low. Photo by Brendan Wilner

By Brendan Wilner
The Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — In the city of DeWitt, everyone is working together to continue their low crime rates. The small population of DeWitt has allowed both city officials and the police department to not have to worry about the crime rate.

The city had 80 total arrests for both 2014 and 2015, according to City Administrator Dan Coss.

“We have a very proactive police department and our officers are very visible in the community. We have a 24/7 department,” said Coss.

Coss also mentioned that DeWitt has a very low crime rate at just 1.47 incidents for violent crime per 1,000 residents and 6.16 incidents of property crime per 1,000 residents. Those violent crimes include homicide, criminal sexual conduct, robbery and assault.

Here in downtown DeWitt, there isn't much going on during the middle of the day, which contributes to less crimes. Photo by Brendan Wilner

Here in downtown DeWitt, there isn’t much going on during the middle of the day, which contributes to less crimes. Photo by Brendan Wilner

One of the main reasons that the crime rate is so low for the city is because of the small population of 4,632 people. The fact that the city has a low amount of people allows for there to be less crime. DeWitt does still get crimes in the city, but not that much.

According to the Annual Activity Report, there are more non-violent crimes that are being called in than violent crimes. Over the past four years, the violent crimes that have been called in were under the category of assaults/intimidation. While over the past two years, there have been zero complaints about robbery.

The chief of police for the DeWitt Police Department Bruce Ferguson said that most of the people in the city have his number and call him personally if they have any problems.

“The city is close and small, so some people actually just drop by on their way home or something and talk to me directly.” said Ferguson.

DeWitt Police Chief, Bruce Ferguson, considers his department close with the residents. Bath-DeWitt Connection file photo.

DeWitt Police Chief, Bruce Ferguson, considers his department close with the residents. Bath-DeWitt Connection file photo.

Ferguson also mentioned that he previously worked at the Lansing Police Department and that he believes that there were different calls that came in. He also said people in the city of DeWitt come to settle down and not worry about the violent crimes.

According to the five-year index crime report in the city of DeWitt, there have been about 912 crimes reported since 2012.

Dr. Phil Schertzing is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University who works for the MSU Criminal Justice Department. He believes that a small town like DeWitt, allows for there to be more community policing methods to form positive trust and cooperation between neighbors and businesses.

“They can also engage the citizens in volunteer programs like Neighborhood Watch, Citizen Police Academy, or Volunteers in Police Service.” Schertzing said. “The end result is that citizens are more alert, aware and cooperative as partners with the police in reporting crimes or suspicious circumstances, or employing crime prevention techniques at their homes and businesses that can help reduce their vulnerability to crimes.”

Schertzing was asked why he thought the crime rate in the city of DeWitt was so low and one of the main reasons was the demographics and economics.

“The size of the population, and the composition of the population, may not include large groups of unemployed people or people living in poverty.” Schertzing said. “The city could also be described as a relatively close-knit community where people know each other well, and there is a positive feeling about their community. They have an annual ox-roast each summer and a city farmer’s market, for example.”

The city of DeWitt has been known to be close and well-known. In the cities’ downtown area, there are small businesses that are owned by local owners such as Sweetie-licious and The Family Tree Cafe.

Policing and crime control are big factors in helping control the crime rates in DeWitt, and the fact that most people want to come and have a nice, average life and not worry about those types of crimes.