open season on petty crime in ypsilanti

A letter from Ypsi’s Chief of Police, Matt Harshberger:

In case you haven’t heard yet, the county jail has been experiencing overcrowding again since the beginning of September. For the past month, we have repeatedly experienced the jail refusing to lodge our arrests for a variety of offenses. We have made numerous property crime arrests, as well as arrests for many other offenses, during the past month and this has become the ongoing, frustrating result – arrested subjects are released because of jail cannot take them due to overcrowding. This is a problem not just for Ypsilanti, but the entire Washtenaw County community. No agency in the county can get their prisoners lodged because of jail overcrowding. The sheriff is not even lodging his own warrant arrests. We’ve even had a meeting with the sheriff’s staff to discuss temporary alternative measures, such as YPD lodging arrests up to twelve hours to allow for jail transport officers to pick up prisoners on warrant arrests that really shouldn’t be released. Doing so, however, causes additional resource problems on our already drained.

As I indicated above, this incident is not the first time we’ve been denied lodging a prisoner at the jail. I am really getting frustrated because of all the folks that keep telling me and the officers that we need to do more to catch the bad guys. We are catching the bad guys, but we can’t keep them in jail. The jail will only accept violent offenses and domestic violence cases. This means that all our property crime issues, as well as some other issues, will continue to be major problems because the offenders are not being held – they’re right back out on the streets doing the same thing that got them arrested in the first place.

With regard to property crimes in general, most of the offenders have alcohol, drug problems and/or are homeless, so they support their addictions or get food by committing these offenses. These offenders need to be stopped/caught, charged and lodged in jail, as they need to get professional help for their variety of personal problems that are driving their criminal habits – simply releasing them back into the community is not only hurting the offenders by exacerbating their addiction and other health problems, but it exponentially compounds criminal activities and behavior, which can often escalate to more serious offenses, such as Home Invasions, street Robberies, etc. Of course, all this hurts everyone else too (residents, businesses, city services, public safety, community, etc).

The bottom line is that the county needs to expand the jail to the extent that it provides adequate services to all its county residents.


Matt Harshberger, Chief of Police

That’s what I love… A letter from my Chief of Police telling me that I should be on the lookout for more Home Invasions.

So, my question to you is this: Is adding more jail cells the best longterm solution?

update: I don’t know if any particular event prompted the Chief to write this letter, but I wonder if maybe it had something do due with the recent murder at the Manor Motel. I wonder if perhaps there’s reason to believe that one or both of the accused killers could have been let go in the days before the murder due to overcrowding.

update: This online comment thread concerning the murder at the Manor Motel makes for realy, really interesting reading.

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  1. mark
    Posted October 18, 2006 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t verified that this letter was indeed from Chief Harshberger, but, given the source, I have no reason to question its legitimacy.

  2. lynne
    Posted October 18, 2006 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Expanding the jail is probably necessary for no other reason than our county’s population is expanding.

  3. egpenet
    Posted October 18, 2006 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    The populations of this country’s unemployed professional thieves and crack heads are exploding.

    In an alley in Detroit behind an historic 1930’s garage I am repairing, I met a man in a car who was pleading for work. “Ain’t no jobs.”

    Those who can work and want work are also growing. Those who work and can’t get paid enough to make the bills and rising expenses and taxes are in trouble.

    Let’s carve pumpkins or read a good book.

  4. Ted Glass
    Posted October 19, 2006 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    All we have to do is label them “enemy combatants” and the feds will take them off our hands. It’s like magic. They just permanently disappear.

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