Number of cops, crimes down statewide in 2014

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of police officers in Michigan shrank by 15.4 percent between 2001 and 2014, according to a recently released report by the House Fiscal Agency. Yet despite that drop, crime in Michigan fell by roughly 34 percent during the same period, according to the  State Police. These simultaneous declines are surprising, some in Michigan’s law enforcement community said. “It kind’ve flies in the face of conventional wisdom from 15 years ago,” said Robert Buursma, a captain in the Holland Police Department. The drop is not as dramatic as it appears in light of Michigan’s shrinking population.

Prostitution more of a local issue than just Stuart Dunnings III allegations

By Zachary Barnes, Emily Elconin and Sakiya Duncan
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporters

A secret rose to the surface after Detective Amber Kenny-Hinojosa was investigating Tyrone Smith for involvement with human trafficking activities. This investigation led to the discovery of a case that involves Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Stuart Dunnings III who is facing 15 charges across three counties, including Ingham County, for allegedly engaging in prostitution. The problem, though, is far more than just of an alleged rogue prosecutor. There were 381 commercialized sex/prostitution offenses reported in 2014 in the state of Michigan according to Michigan Incident Crime Reporting database. In 2013 and 2014, 12 men and 15 women were arrested for such crimes in Lansing.

‘Day to day business’ continues at Ingham County prosecutor’s office in wake of chief’s arrest

By Laina Stebbins, Holly Osmer and Brendan Wilner
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporters

Charges against Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III were announced at a March 14 press conference, and aftershocks continue to resonate throughout the community. Still, the official word at the prosecutor’s office is that it’s business as usual. “Our office does not have any comment on the charges against Mr. Dunnings,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Lisa McCormick in an email. “The day to day business of the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office continues to be performed by the attorneys and staff.” McCormick has assumed Dunnings’ duties in his absence.

Two recent bank robberies were two rarities for the area

By Stevie Pipis
Holt Journal Staff Reporter

Bank robberies are pretty rare in Mid-Michigan in the first place. Last month, that rare event happened twice. And on the same day. The two banks were the FirstMerit Bank in Delhi Township and Comerica Bank in Lansing, both on Cedar Road and both robbed on the morning of Feb. 20.

Dogowners can sue for emotional distress, judge rules

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — The owners of a dog shot and seriously wounded by a Corrections Department investigator can sue the state for emotional distress and mental anguish damages under federal civil rights law, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain rejected the state’s argument that the owners, Erica Moreno and Katti Putman, would be entitled only to economic damages if they prove that the investigator acted unconstitutionally. The investigator, Ronald Hughes, several state troopers and a Flint police officer on a multiagency team went to the wrong house in Flint while searching for a fugitive in June 2014, according to court documents. They had an arrest warrant for the fugitive. Hughes mistakenly went into the backyard of the fugitive’s next-door neighbors, where he saw 58-pound Clohe, a 15-year-old pit bull mix, coming out the door and shot her in the face, the decision said.

Law enforcement agencies beef up cyber capabilities

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — What is to many people an all-in-one device for communication and entertainment is to law enforcement agencies a partner in criminal investigations. With smartphones containing GPS and time-stamped data, police can use them as an additional piece of the narrative when executing a search warrant, said Detective Lt. Jay Poupard, the assistant commander of the State Police Cyber Section. To keep up with demand for forensic services from local departments seeking help to access hidden smartphone data and train experts within those agencies, the State Police recently opened computer crime unit offices in Marquette and Coldwater, Poupard said. Those facilities will offer two programs for officers’ certification as a forensic examiner and as a high-tech investigator. “When we have that footprint and we have a physical place for detectives to go and learn while investigating these crimes, it makes the state a safer place,” Poupard said.

Law enforcement agencies pooling resources to fight Internet child porn, abuse

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — The recent arrest of a Marquette County man for allegedly furnishing child pornography and sexually assaulting a minor illustrates a growing collaboration among law enforcement agencies to track down sexual predators who use digital devices. Andrew Caron, 43, of Forsyth Township has been arraigned on 29 counts of furnishing and producing child sexual material and 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, including penetration and oral sex, with a child under 13, Undersheriff Michael Klein of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office said. To catch Caron, the sheriff’s office conducted a seven-month investigation with help from the Forsyth Township Police Department and a State Police cybercrime unit in Traverse City, Klein said. The investigation is ongoing to determine if there is more than one victim, Klein said. The case reflects intensified investigations into Internet-related sex crimes involving children, experts say.

What you’d gain and lose by disbanding the Grand Ledge Police Department (not that it’s likely)

By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge staff reporter
Ruth Creyts, Grand Ledge resident and owner of an antique store in downtown Grand Ledge, said that she would be very upset if the Grand Ledge Police Department was ever disbanded. About 20 years ago that possibility actually almost became a reality. “Some of the city council had talked to the sheriff’s office, just to see what it would cost,” Grand Ledge police officer Lt. Chris Blievernicht said. “Just solely as a peer cost saving measure.”
Blievernicht has been on the force for 17 years, all while serving the citizens of Grand Ledge. He said that the plan never went through because the city council realized it wouldn’t of saved Grand Ledge any money.

ACLU concerned by license plate cameras

By ZHAO PENG
Capital News Service
LANSING — Advanced technology can increase the efficiency of law enforcement agencies, helping them protect public safety. But sometimes, technology may also threaten it at the same time. That’s what the American Civil Liberties Union says about the controversial use of automatic license plate scanners. Automatic license plate readers have high-speed cameras that can photograph every passing license plate, and scanner systems store extensive details about each vehicle. The readers can be placed in many locations, including on patrol cars and bridges.

Bill would require parental OK for juvenile informants in criminal investigations

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Law enforcement agencies would need parental or guardian approval to use juvenile informants in criminal investigations under a new legislative proposal. The bill by Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, would prohibit police agencies from using under-18 informants without such permission. It also would give parents and guardians the right to a court order to stop a violation. Juveniles are most often used as confidential informants after they’ve been arrested on drug charges and asked to help police in exchange for having charges dropped, Irwin said. “This is a real problem,” he said.