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A Perfect Storm or A Politically Engineered Typhoon?

Over at AnnArbor.com, the new blogger on crime and the cops posted a piece titled, “Hang on Ann Arbor: The perfect storm in law enforcement is blowing in.” Kinsey’s blog is a good read, so long as you do so with a healthy dose of skepticism. Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor Police Detective Sgt. One of the over two dozen police officers given early retirement. The ones who taxpayers now pay more to sit around in their skivvies and blog than to investigate crimes.

Rich Kinsey is, of course, the same Rich Kinsey who was involved in a December 2008 dust-up with a U of M law student who’d been paying her tuition by, well, offering tutoring services of the sexual variety on Craigslist. When the student got assaulted by her customer, a University of Michigan Professor, she went lodge a complaint with the AA Police. Both the prof and the law student were charged with a misdemeanor charge of using a computer to commit a crime.   It was AnnArbor.com Semper Cop blogger Kinsey who was quoted in the press as saying, “Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this.” Needless to say, Kinsey’s comment came back to kiss him on the butt.

On January 13, 2009, the legal eagles at the popular LegalMatch blog summed up Rich Kinsey’s police work this way: “When the law student complained to the police of the attack and the subsequent vision problems she had because of it, she was arrested. The professor was also arrested, and both ended up pleading to the lesser offense of using a computer to commit a crime. What is troubling here is not only the possible chilling effect that arresting a sex worker complaining of abuse may cause in the future, but the comment by an Ann Arbor detective about the case: ‘Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this,’ Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said.  Wow. Really? What conclusion should she have come to? That what she did was illegal, and therefore the fact that she was the victim of a battery is irrelevant? I guess that according to Sgt. Kinsey, if you are the victim of a crime, don’t bother coming to the police if you are also a prostitute.”

It’s no wonder Rich Kinsey took early retirement. It was either that, or face protests and picketing by the United Guild of Sex Workers in Law School. But I digress. In Kinsey’s latest blog he writes about the reduction in staffing in the A2 Police Department like a real diplomat—a guy who’s still protecting his partners and his early retirement package. He writes: “FBI crime statistics released this week weren’t that surprising. For the last year or so before my retirement, I was predicting worse crime statistics….” With whom, I wonder, did Kinsey share his dire predictions? Certainly not the press, though a quick Google search turns up dozens of quotes from Kinsey to the press about crimes committed and under investigation in Ann Arbor over the course of the past two years.

At the same time Kinsey was having his terrible misgivings, his boss, in July, Police Chief Barnett Jones was telling the press and people of Ann Arbor that: “Ann Arbor is just as safe as it was before. I am tired of people saying our community is not going to be safe. We’ve got police officers here that are stepping in and filling the gap. We’ve been cutting police officers since 2000, and has crime run amok because people are leaving.” One imagines Rich Kinsey  knew his boss was, in essence, feeding the public a crock of shamrocks. Now, Kinsey in his blogger role tells us he knew all along that crime was going to skyrocket. It was just a matter of time and circumstances. The Perfect Storm was a brewin’, Pa. Kinsey could feel it in his holster hip.

Still Rich Kinsey toes the party line when he writes, “For local police departments, the cost of personnel constitutes the vast majority of their annual operating budget. When the budgets get cut, there is no other “fat” to cut. The departments must cut staff.  That’s why I am ‘contributing’ here and not policing. If old cops like me hadn’t retired, younger officers would have been laid off. The city made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, so here I blog. The fact of the matter is that budget cuts have shorted police staffing.” It’s a quaint picture. Rich Kinsey sitting on his porch, shotgun to his left to scare the criminal tendencies out of any unlucky SOB who tries a daylight B&E at the Kinsey house, diet soda to his right, blogging away the day, so the young bucks can stay on the job. Come on. Kinsey’s retired now. Will someone tell him we’re looking for Serpico, man, not the Sheriff of Centerburg.

Here’s what Rich left out, and not because he’s naive or addled by early retirement.

Those budget cuts to which Kinsey refers didn’t just happen, like a perfect storm just happens. Our City Administrator Roger Fraser, Mayor Hieftje and Council members have voted over the past four years to pass budgets presented to them by the Council’s Budget and Labor Committee—the most recent budget crafted by Leigh Greden, Mayor Hieftje, Marcia Higgins, Margie Teall and Stephen Rapundalo—budgets that gutted our police and fire departments. Council all drank the kool-aide served up by Roger Fraser and John Hieftje that Ann Arbor would be safer with half the cops we had when Hieftje took office in 2000, and a-third fewer firefighters. Chief Barnett Jones told us so in July 2009, but Rich Kinsey knew differently, didn’t he, at least that’s what he said in his blog today.

Only a fool would believe the current rise in crime, and inability of our police department to deal with it as efficiently and effectively as they’d like, is a perfect storm, something that just happens. The rise in crime and the police difficulty in responding to it are the result of flawed political planning and a long-term effort by our elected officials to convince the public that a robust and fully staffed complement of emergency service workers is a waste of money. 

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1 Comment for “A Perfect Storm or A Politically Engineered Typhoon?”

  1. Our general fund is being devoured by debt. The court/cop-shop expansion supported by the chief and unopposed by the police unions is one reason we are laying off police. (I’m almost too sick about this to point out the irony.) This follows the policy of the current administration which seems to get a kick out of spending money on “projects”, supporting development with tax credits and infrastructure improvements while neglecting the provision of services to the citizens of this town. Maybe it makes them feel important, while we’re feeling impotent. That might be part of the buzz. In any case, this is corruption–of the most elemental kind–corruption of purpose.

    While most of us seem to understand that Ann Arbor is good enough, we continue to elect people suffering from civic-inferiosis. “We are not Portland. Oh my god–we’re not? I know, let’s pay some developers to build tall buildings and hire a German guy to plant a little metal thingie that everyone in the whole world will want to come and look at. Who says we’re not Portland!” It’s that old American ghost of “can-do” that’s a haunting our poor ville. It scares us stupid–really stupid.

    Too often citizen dialogue with the council takes the form of a school yard taunt with the nerdy, know-it-all kid who just turned a potato into a radio.
    “Bet you cannot build a supermax court/copshop and maintain essential services.”
    “Can-so.”
    “Cannot.”
    “Can-so.”
    “Prove it.”
    The silence at the end of prove-it is what most Ann Arbor voters don’t seem to hear. And the benefit of the doubt is given to the “Can-doers” because after-all one can turn a potato into a radio (a gun too, oops).

    Scores of break-ins later, do we get it? Or are we looking for villains in all the wrong places. We’re reporting cars driving “slow” on residential streets! We’re demonizing the homeless, while the real perps are standing up in public telling us to lock our doors and report “suspicious activity”. I tried that back when council was voting on the supermax facility, but for some reason it didn’t set off any alarms. Wait until we get our next home owners insurance bills. Can you hear me now.

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