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Arrests trigger crime wave?

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Riddle me this, Batman: When does catching crooks lead to an increase in crime?

The answer: When the crooks nabbed are cops. At least it appears that could be the case in the Fourth Precinct in Southwest Detroit.

“We have had a noticeable increase in prostitution on West Vernor,” says Kathy Wendler, executive director of the Southwest Detroit Business Association.

Kathy Milberg, executive director of the Michigan Avenue Business Association, says there have been two robberies in the past month in the nonprofit’s parking lot. “We have been in this building since September of 2002 and not had any problems,” until recently, says Milberg.

A phone repairman had two laptops stolen from his van. A construction consultant had a power saw taken from her car. When the consultant confronted the thief, he punched her in the face and attempted to run her down with his car, says Milberg, who plans to install security cameras to monitor the parking lot.

Milberg and Wendler suspect that the mini-crime wave is due to the Fourth Precinct’s loss of 12 officers last June, when the cops were indicted for extortion and robbery; those cases are pending.

But Precinct Deputy Chief Tara Dunlop contends that crime has not “dramatically” increased in the 12-square-mile precinct.

“It is true that [the Fourth Precinct] is tremendously understaffed right now,” says Dunlop. However, officers work overtime to meet minimum staffing levels; their presence on the street has not been affected, she says.

Dunlop would not say how many officers patrol the streets, explaining, “We don’t want to give the bad guys too much information.”

Dunlop notes that the dozen officers indicted in June were undercover cops, part of a special operations unit that did not patrol the streets. However, she says the department intends to replace them with uniformed officers working the street beat.

To help make sure this happens, Wendler wrote to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick last week, asking that more officers be added to the Fourth Precinct.

We’d tell you more, but we don’t want the crooks out there — many of whom, we understand, are big fans of News Hits — to get too much information.

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