"More officers would allow me to do more proactive policing and community engagement, like putting more officers downtown," Seto says. "But any growth has to be sustainable"--meaning, the chief doesn't want to hire more cops only if he'll have to lay them off the next time money gets tight. And even with crime declining, he says, "we still need to maintain the numbers [of officers] because we have to take into consideration how people feel. People need to feel safe."
How safe people feel may depend on which statistics they're looking at. In 2008-2012, the combined number of burglaries, robberies, sexual assaults, and vehicle thefts declined 28 percent in Ann Arbor compared to 2003-2007, according to the Crime Maps. On the other hand, the combined number of cops in town, including U-M public safety officers, declined 32 percent from 254 in 2000 to 173 now.
Up for debate is how the trends interact. No doubt that's why public safety staffing has been an issue in recent city elections. After last year's upturn in crime, 2013 should be no exception.
[Originally published in April, 2013.]