By Courtney Kendler
Holt Journal staff reporter
With winter right around the corner, crime may be one less thing Delhi Township residents need to worry about. With the expectations of another bitterly-cold winter, crime rates may drop, along with temperatures.
According to an April 2015 monthly report for Delhi Township, the number of calls for service from January to April of 2013 was 1,384. That number decreased to 708 calls between January and April of 2014.
The number of citations issued in Delhi Township also decreased during the same period, from 993 in 2013, to 783 in 2014.
When asked what he believed was the reason for the fluctuation in police service requests, Delhi Township Lt. Vern Elliot said, “The decrease in calls for service in 2014 is primarily due to such a brutal winter. I believe the biggest reason they were down so low was because the winter was so cold.”
According to the National Weather Service, Michigan reached record-breaking lows during the winter months of 2014, including a reading of minus-11 degrees in February.
“Traditionally, our calls go up during the summertime,” said Elliot. “And they start decreasing again once the kids are back in school and it starts getting cooler.”
Michigan State University Professor of Criminal Justice David Carter believes that interpersonal crimes of violence rise when the weather is consistently cold and people tend to be inside more, while property crimes are more likely to occur during the summertime.
“Extended close proximity among an array of people often increases conflict and some of that conflict leads to crime,” said Carter.
While recent years have been uncharacteristically cold, Lansing WILX-TV Meteorologist Darrin Rockcole doesn’t expect this winter to be quite as bitter as the past few.
“We are in an El Niño year, with warmer water over the Pacific,” said Rockcole. “Generally speaking, this means above normal temperatures in the Great Lakes region.”
Nevertheless, with more people staying inside during the cold winter months, there is also a growing concern over the use of illegal substances in Delhi Township.
“A big problem in Holt right now is the same problem everywhere. It’s heroin. It’s huge,” said Delhi Township Supervisor C.J. Davis. “Until we as a society, and the police, can get together and figure out a way where, essentially, people can turn in their relatives without their relatives having repercussions of that, we’re doomed.”
New initiatives, aimed at protecting substance abusers that reach out for help during an overdose, are making headway in local governments and could potentially save more lives, said Davis.
Carter suggests that establishing a dialogue between the police and the community is a good way to help lower residents’ fear of crime and will also make people more willing to give police information when a crime does occur.
The repercussions of crime in a growing community like Delhi Township do not only affect the individuals directly involved, but also affect the reputation of the community as a whole.
“A reputation for violence and signs of disorder in a community always have an effect on the willingness of people to move to a community,” said Carter. “Even the perception that a community has a crime problem will keep people from moving there.”
While local law enforcement is continuously working to ensure public safety, Carter suggests that residents continue to take the necessary steps to keep property and valuables secure and to always be aware of their surroundings.