an average friday night in ypsi?

Last Friday night, a friend of this site – a fellow named David Palmer – went out for few drinks, and got a little more than he bargained for. Following is the story of what happened, reprinted with his permission. I’m hoping that it might prompt a good discussion on crime and what we as a community can do about it:

About 12:30am I went up to the Elbow Room. It was the normal scene with local alt-indy rockers doing their thing. I had a Jack & Coke while listening to a few songs.

Next I moved up to the Tap Room, where several friends were sitting on the patio yucking about local politics and that sort of fun stuff. There I had another Jack & Coke. A friend of a friend there explained to me that the other day he had a guy pull a gun on him demanding his money. Unfortunately for the would-be robber this man I was speaking to had no tolerance for the situation and reminded the robber that he was the clerk at the pawn shop where he had just sold a bunch of jewelry. The robber was confused and walked away.

I’ve felt a bid odd all day, wondering what’s in store. Me and KB ended our few month old dating relationship this week. This was a major bummer, but is understandable on a lot of practical levels.

So I’m walking back to my car and receive a series of very odd text messages from my ex in Maine. She’s evidently sending me back my cd collection, which is nice. The rest is too complex for this simple blog post. Lets just say we don’t talk much and to get 2 texts at 2am on a Friday is a bit out of the ordinary. I wish her well with her fiance and pending family. She will be a great mom some day soon.

The real kicker was when I got to my car. Several angry souls took out some frustration on my vehicle. I have a nice little Scion, whose driver side door is now caved in and a bottle was broken on the hatchback door. The driver’s door, of course, won’t open.

Since I had had a few drinks, I walked up to the Police Station, a block away. While I was there the officer taking my report had to run off to handle a shooting up the street, so I waited.

A half an hour or so later the dispatcher told me to walk back to my car to finish the report. In route I saw a fight break out across the street in the Abe’s Coney Island parking lot. A woman came screaming out of the group saying to call the cops because someone was just stabbed. So of course I rolled my eyes and called the same dispatcher that just told me to walk back to my car to ask him to send the officer that was waiting for me at my car to the scene of the latest greatest criminal offense in my fair city.

I’ve always identified with the Sargent in Apocalypse Now. You know, the “there is nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning” guy? The bizarre horror of human destruction doesn’t phase me in some ways. In other ways it has eaten away at my soul for too long. What’s all this mean… not much. I’m out either $500 or $1000 for a deductible to fix my car. I guess that will go on a credit card that I just paid off.

Since I’m in love with doing good in this crazy world, I don’t imagine I’ll have another romantic relationship with a woman for some time. The good news is that I’m driving down to Indiana to see Radiohead play on Sunday; providing, of course, I’m not hit by a run-away bus or a stray bullet from Ypsi/Fallujah between now and then…

I haven’t looked at the numbers in a while, but my sense, talking to friends like David, is that crime rates are going up in the city. Assuming that’s the case, what do we want to do about it? And what kind of help can we realistically expect the from the police, who, we’re told, are already stretched too thin? Does someone have to get killed downtown before any real action is taken? Or is it not even worth trying? Is crime inevitable on hot summer nights like this in an economy where everyone’s struggling to keep their head above water?

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  1. egpenet
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Chill. All crimes are reported, investigated and fed into the database so perps can be tracked and patterns can be identifieed. We have a community policing program here that works.

    Saturn and Mars are also conjunct and there was a new moon recently. The loonies come out a couple times a month. Also, pay days every couple weeeks puts a strain on folks … that’s when thee cars with Detroit and Chicago plates roll into town to make their dump.

    Hang on, Mark. It’s OK.

  2. not my problem
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    The problem is, this jackass should have bought an American car. I’m guessing (well hoping actually) that someone fucked up his car for buying a foreign piece of shit. If this was the case, then maybe none of this would have happened.

  3. mark
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    By “American car,” you mean one made in Mexico with Chinese parts but marketed by an American company, right?

    And I like your reasoning. It’s pretty persuasive. It’s got a very “look at the way she was dressed – she was asking for it” ring to it.

    As for your comment, Ed, I don’t know. It seems to me that we’re seeing an uptick that can’t all be explained away by “well that’s what happens in the summer on pay day.” I want to check the statistics, but my gut tells me that violent crime is on the rise.

  4. Posted August 7, 2008 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I want to check the statistics, but my gut tells me that violent crime is on the rise.

    Mark, can you please *actually* check the numbers before the next time you assert that you want to, but really just feel that crime is going up?

    My gut tell me that if the An Arbor News wrote an editorial saying, “There are numbers out there, but instead, let’s look to anecdotal evidence to show you how scary Ypsilanti is!”, you’d be pretty unhappy. There are probably posts out there that would allow me to check this assumption, but, for now, I’ll just go with my gut.

    (My gut also tells me that your real motivation for going to the circus is that you’re hoping to snort blow off the belly of a clown behind the recycling center.)

  5. Posted August 7, 2008 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “The problem is, this jackass should have bought an American car. I’m guessing (well hoping actually) that someone fucked up his car for buying a foreign piece of shit. If this was the case, then maybe none of this would have happened.”

    Do assholes hang out here, too?

  6. Posted August 7, 2008 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Murph, you wrote exactly what was on my mind.

  7. Paw
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I caught an attractive young woman licking our cat’s litter box last night.

  8. Crime Reporter
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I know it’s not a city site, but the crime map for last weekend on doesn’t show any of the incidents that David mentions. No shots fired. No stabbing. No car door smashing.

  9. Andy Cameron
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I imagine some here are familiar with this Ypsi police site, but I didn’t see it linked anywhere. Crime stats for everyone!

  10. Crime Reporter
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you Andy. It’s a nice site, but not of much use to me as it doesn’t present the information in a way that makes comparative analysis over time possible. If that information exists somewhere on the site I have not been able to find it.

  11. Andy Cameron
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Yeah, the site doesn’t do it for you. It looks like they’re just dumping a standard set of built in reports each week. Manual collation and some trend analysis is possible though.

  12. Kathy
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’m going to agree with Mark’s assumption and say that crime in Ypsilanti appears to be on an uptick. My neighbor’s car was stolen and two houses broken into down the street all within one week of each other. A week or so later, my (same) neighbor saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt standing underneath my dining room window at 3:00 am. She called the police and he was apprehended — not for standing under my window, but for other crimes he was involved in.

    Perhaps it’s just a matter of my neighborhood being heavily targeted right now but it does seem like there’s more going on than what I’m used to or comfortable with.

  13. Posted August 7, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    During my 38 years in Ypsilanti I had not known anyone whose home had been broken into. A few weeks ago 3 people I knew had their houses broken into. To me this meant Ypsilanti was in the middle of a huge crime wave but I was told by a Police Officer that the burglaries had just moved into other neighborhoods.

    I can tell you that when I went to one of the burglary scenes the house was swarming with Police who took a couple of hours investigating. I know that in 2 of the 3 burglaries the suspects have been caught because of good Police work by the YPD.

    What we can do to stop crime is to report suspicious activity to the police. Call the non-emergency line at 483-9510 and let them decide if they need to respond. Sadly there isn’t much we can do about the crimes Mark mentioned in the original post. All three of the crimes were problems with unstable individuals and the Police can’t do anything until something happens.

  14. Posted August 7, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve found that more bad things have happened to me when I’m out drinking at 1:00 in the morning then when I stay in the house. And David was getting in his car to drive home after drinking? That’s a crime right there! I’m not saying it is bad to be out late at night, but expect the probablity of being a victim of a crime to increase significantly.

    All I’m saying is that there’s things we can all do if we want to prevent crime from happening to us. Be smart, be safe, stay alert. As far as the break ins go, I remember Malcolm X saying in his autobiography that when he was a professional burglar he used to always avoid houses that had a bathroom light on – that someone could always be in the bathroom at any time at night, for any length of time. I always leave my bathroom light on at night, as well as a few other lights, energy conservation be damned. I also make sure my windows and doors are secure at all times.

    I also report any sort of suspicious activity to the police, and communicate with my neighbors to increase awareness. Most neighborhoods have watch groups that you can participate in.

    Fixing crime is a complicated issue, because the root of crime and the antecedents are very, very complex. If you want to avoid crime, take approrpiate action. If you’re a criminal yourself, think about why you do it and ask yourself if you’re willing to change, and then make a plan for yourself. Besides what we can each do on an individual level, it takes a complete system overhaul.

    I think the Ypsi police and the Washtenaw County police do an excellent job and they don’t get enough credit.

    I also think that our own individual perceptions of the increase of crime comes from our own personal experiences. If we’ve been a victim or our neighborhood has had recent trouble or someone we know has been a victim, then the problem seems magnified. If we haven’t been affected then we don’t worry about it as much. That’s why it’s important to check facts and analyze data.

    That being said, posts like this are good (even being spun towards the negative) because it raises discussion and awareness.

  15. Robert
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Common criminals are generally very stupid and impulsive people. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to surprise and disorient them. The more unpredictable you (or your home) look as a target, the less a common criminal will be attracted.

    Sophisticated criminals, who are an extremely small minority, choose targets which appear to offer greater payoffs. They usually do a lot of casing of their intended target before making their move.

    Human behavior appears at times to be very arbitrary, but it is absolutely never random. There are an infinite number of things you can do to fuck with any would-be criminal’s comfort and confidence in approaching you and/or your home.

  16. degutails
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    the plural of anecdote is not data.


  17. dp in ypsi
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    not my problem: Your comment is pretty amazing! Thanks for your wonderful insight =-) For your information, I test drove a couple of Focus hatchbacks before purchasing my Scion each drove poorly and got worse gas mileage than the Scion xA or the Nissan Versa. The Chevy Aveo is a crappy car, so I was left with Toyota and Nissan. I chose the Scion for fuel economy, storage and reliability. Also note that the auto executives, engineers, etc. that I had regular conversations with throughout the 90s were always dismissive of my requests to develop fuel efficient (30+mpg) 5 door hatchbacks and hybrids. Today most of these individuals are retired because their company management chose short term interests over long term sustainability. Peak oil theories started surfacing in the 70s, none of the issues that we are facing now are a surprise. Notice that GM started shipping US jobs to foreign countries about the same time that peak oil conversations started happening. The fact is that every consumer, UAW worker or not, needs to look at themselves in the mirror every-time they shop at Walmart, Target, or any other box store. More damage is done to the economy by spending money at box stores instead of with locally owned businesses, farmers etc.

    Statistics… Council Member Robb was kind enough to forward me a boat-load of statistics on local crime. These are, of course, just the documented incidents and are grouped for reporting purposes, not necessarily good research purposes. According to the spread sheet he provided me incidents rose 12% in 2005, and 6.3% in 2006.

    Street level issues ebb and flow per the time of day, moon cycle, payroll periods, etc. I would argue that most incidents are not reported to Police, and are not officially counted. Reports of incidents where no person was charged are not reported in actual crime statistics.

    Crime Reporter: I don’t know how reports are logged at Ypsi crime. My knowledge of the shooting came from the YPD Dispatcher, I phoned in the reported stabbing because I was walking by at the time of the purported incident, and the vandalism case number is 08-8557.

    Cousin Geoff: thanks for your comment. I am not a heavy drinker (I don’t think I’ve actually been drunk since being diagnosed with MS in 1998) and would not have broken the law had I driven home. 2 drinks in just over 2 hours is well under the recommended safety guidelines for a person of my weight and height. I chose to walk to the police station not because I was drunk, but because my luck was obviously not that great on that evening and a rational decision was made not to have to raise the issue of having 2 drinks with the reporting officer. Additionally, I was not sure at the time if my car was safe to drive given the damage.

    Bar closing is a hoppin time for activity, this I know. I thought it was an interesting story that could keep dialog going on this site. That dialogue would be concerning funding, city finances and an over-burdened and under-manned(womaned) police force. I’m looking forward to good work being done by the Primary winners from Tuesday on these topics and more!

  18. Posted August 7, 2008 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    dp – my apologies for alluding to you being over the limit to drive. I made an assumption based on the story and I totally didn’t mean for it to come off that way. And I speak from experience, trying to warn others as I was arrested and put in jail about 8 years ago for a DWI right here in Ypsi. It was a great lesson.

  19. dp in ypsi
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Cousin Goeff- thanks for your reply, and thank you for sharing your experience!

    For everyone else, here is a bit of info on MI’s drunk driving laws:,1607,7-127-1640_9150-76571–,00.html

  20. Posted August 7, 2008 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    My gut tells me that there has always been lots of crime in Ypsi.

  21. crimewave101
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    dude, that’s like my saying that Fourth Ave. between Huron and Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor has *always* been the local red light district. “Always” is not a word that should be applied to any community, since communities are constantly changing. That stretch of Ann Arbor was once (in my living memory) an ugly place, with a couple of adult businesses and some prostitutes and all that goes with that. Now, it is high rent and an attractive part of town.

  22. grr
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    “By ‘American car,’ you mean one made in Mexico with Chinese parts but marketed by an American company, right?”

    The domestics still support many, many more jobs than the transplants. Maybe you don’t realize it, or don’t want to acknowledge it, but the domestic auto industry supports a large number of *white collar* jobs (Yep, the domestics hire more than UAW workers) in the 5-county area. Even with Toyota and Kia’s (or is it Hyundai?) small local contribution, the shrinking domestics still bring more to our economy than the others ever will (unless they all go under; it’s a lot easier to seem significant next to zero).

    So yeah, some American cars are made south of the border, some are made to the north, and some use foreign parts. Many are made locally, or a few states over. And the revenue and profits from those sales come back to this area, supporting our neighbors (yes, that includes me. And my brother, my brother-in-law, his brother, two of my close [non-work related] friends, and countless nearby neighbors and family friends).
    The erosion of this country’s ability to manufacture things (that includes the R&D and other nerd stuff, not just assembly) should have everyone scared. We can’t all be service workers and artists.

    On buying from locals: Does supporting “locally owned” businesses only apply to small enterprises?

    Regarding crime (the real subject of this post, sorry for my digression, it’s a very sore spot)- it very well may be increasing, but as mentioned above, anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean proof. I’d think that with tough times crimes could increase, and given we have the worst economy in the country, I think it qualifies as tough times.

    (I speak solely for myself, not my employer; I probably get more worked up about this than most; I am not an MM troll, as I tend to find most subjects interesting, but few enough to get worked up enough to post comments).

  23. nearby
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    This is only 4 miles, square.

    A good portion of that has no issues.

    It should not be that hard to make this place uncomfortable enough for the problem folks that they move along.

    When I lived in the bible belt, I used to think poorly of the actions of the small town cops regarding troublemakers.

    I don’t think poorly of that anymore. I guess I hadn’t lived in areas where a small portion of the pop. caused all the issues before. they knew more than I.

    Nothing like a gun butt to the mouth to make ya move along. And you can tell the problem people, they are missing teeth that normally persist (even in populations that have no access to dentistry).

    Sad that I feel this way now. Thanks, MI.

  24. Posted August 7, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi has always had crime, at least as long as I’ve lived here. Ann Arbor and Ypsi are two very different places. I thought that was part of the appeal of Ypsi, that it wasn’t and never will be Ann Arbor?

  25. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    “Nothing like a gun butt to the mouth to make ya move along. And you can tell the problem people, they are missing teeth that normally persist (even in populations that have no access to dentistry).”

    That sounds almost sentimental.

  26. mark
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    When I said that my “gut” told me that crime was going up, it was actually more than that. I had friends that were robbed, and then I got this story from David. So it wasn’t just that I woke up and had this inkling that things were getting worse. But, you’re right Murph, the next time I say I want to check the numbers, I should actually do it. I did look at the weekly police maps that Andy linked to above, but they’re not of much help. I’d have to go through week by week, count up all the different kinds of crime on the map, etc. I’ll call the Police Department sometime and ask for a spreadsheet with all the data. I’m sure they have it… But, as someone else said, the police numbers don’t capture everything… But, yeah, I know it kind of sucks when asshole bloggers make comments without the facts to back them up. But, in this case, I suspect I’m right, regardless of what the numbers might show.

  27. Zach
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    When I was in the new Walgreens on Prospect and Washtenaw tonight I noticed that the glass on the two front doors had been broken (and boarded). I was originally skeptical when I first read this thread, but now I’m not so sure. Depressing.

  28. nearby
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    That sounds almost sentimental.

    Straightforward folk, straightforward outlook, simple way of taking care of problems- identify them, and move them along.

    Yes, sentimental.

    Nothing like we have here in Michigan, where people not only refuse to properly ID the problem people, they refuse to do anything about them.

    Thinking most recently of this sad case:

  29. Old Goat' Wife
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi crime, like most urban crime is directly related to the economy. Bad economy=bad crime

  30. EoS
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Crime is not caused by poverty – it’s cause is moral degeneracy. The vast majority of poor persons are honest, law abiding citizens who would share their limited funds with anyone they think has a greater need.

  31. Brent
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    When I first read this thread yesterday, I thought that Mark’s gut feeling was wrong. In the two and half years I’ve lived in Ypsi I’ve never had a problem. Last night however my car was broken into, so now I’m not so sure. I hope I’m wrong, that it is just another anecdote, but right now I can’t help but think the worst. And yes, I do realize that my view is likely skewed currently.

  32. Edwardo
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    My neighborhood association just received the following note from our Chief of P-lice, who says “accurately reporting cr-me statistics is burdensome.”

    Just a reminder that this report does not reflect all crim-nal activity that takes place in the city. In fact, it is only the cr-mes that the Ann Arbor News reports in the newspaper on a weekly basis. If you recall, that is how we began compiling crim- statistics for the public
    initially many years ago. Although we have progressed in our efforts to use computer t-chnology to our advantage with regard to web-based cr-me mapping, we still report only the cr-mes that we’ve been sending to the media on a weekly basis. Although we do produce more complete and encompassing crim- analysis reports for our own use to direct our cr-me-fighting resources, we have not yet added to the current weekly cr-me reports that we send out to the community. I say “yet” because we have had discussions with the Volunteer Service Corps members that do all the cr-me reporting work about adding cr-me categories to the list. There is a desire to add to the list, which would provide a more complete picture of cr-me activity in the city, but the time and effort/work involved with accurately reporting crim- statistics is burdensome.

    A couple of weeks ago, I had the Detective Bureau perform a cursory review of year-to-date cr-me statistics for some of the cr-me categories that we were seeing being reported with the highest frequency. Below, I pasted Det/Sgt. Troy Fulton’s email explaining the results of the quick review that he performed. It was meant only for a birds-eye comparison of the specified cr-me categories this year to same period of time last year (January to July 15th). You will also see that June and July were pulled out to specifically show whether crim- was increasing or decreasing during those months compared to last year.

    B&E means burglar-es (Home Invasions), LFV is Larc-ny from Vehicle, LFV Parts is Larceny from V-hicle Parts (catalytic converters is the big-t-cket target item at this time), Larc-ny other is all other Larc-nies that do not include motor vehicles, UDAA is car th-ft (Unl-wful Driving Away of an Automobile), and CSC is r-pe (Crim-nal S-xual Conduct). Of course, R-bberies is r-bbery (taking of property directly from another person with f-rce).

    D/Sgt. Fulton reported,

    “The first number represents YTD for both 07′ and 08′, which is from Jan 1st of both years to July 15th. The second set of numbers are from the Months of June and July 07′ then June and July of 08′. Even after this review I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary in fact I believe most things that we’re concerned with may be around the same or have decreased since last year.

    R-bberies 07′ YTD = 48
    June 07′ = 12
    July 07’= 4
    R-bberies Down 10

    Robb-ries 08′ YTD = 38
    June 08′ = 4
    July 08′ = 4

    B&E 07′ YTD = 136
    June 07′ = 26
    July 07′ = 15
    B&E’s Up 3

    B&E 08′ YTD = 139
    June 08′ = 23
    July 08′ = 10

    LFV 07′ YTD = 97
    June 07′ = 19
    July 07′ = 10
    LFV Down 1

    LFV 08′ YTD = 96
    June 08′ = 16
    08′ = 7

    LFV Parts 07′ YTD = 30
    June 07′ = 3
    July 07′ = 4
    LFV Parts Up 6

    LFV Parts 08′ YTD = 36
    June 08′ = 8
    July 08′ = 3

    Larc.Other 07′ YTD = 156
    June 07′ = 23
    July 07′ = 31
    Larc. Other Down 4

    Larc.Other 08′ YTD = 152
    June 08′ = 22
    July 08′ = 17

    UDAA 07′ YTD = 60
    June 07′ = 10
    July 07′ = 3
    UDAA’S Up 3

    UDAA 08′ YTD = 63
    June 08′ = 8
    July 08′ = 4

    All CSC’s 07′ YTD = 29
    June 07′ = 3
    July 07′ = 1
    CSC’s Down 13

    All CSC’s 08′ YTD = 16
    June 08′ = 2
    July 08′ = 3

    Let me know if you understand I just typed it up real quick.”

    I thought you may be interested in this information as a quick snapshot of these cr-me categories compared to last year. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know. Take care and I hope you have a great weekend. And, I hope to see you tomorrow at the CoPAC Picnic/150-year YPD Anniversary at the pol-ce station from noon to 3 p.m.

    Matt Harshberger, Chief of Pol-ce
    City of Ypsilanti P-lice Department
    505 W. Michigan Avenue
    Ypsilanti, MI 48197

  33. Edwardo
    Posted August 8, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    (I had to remove vowels until I got through the spam filter.)

  34. Posted August 8, 2008 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Even if crime went down or stayed the same, that still means there is crime. Is there a place on earth where there isn’t crime?

  35. Posted August 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    “Ypsilanti, Michigan is in the 88% percentile rank in the state for Violent Crime. It is in the 92% percentile rank nationally. ” -

    That’s pretty bad. Anybody who says there’s no crime in Ypsi is a bozo.

  36. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    At least, we have choices.

    We can:

    a) buy more police (which costs money, which is so politically lame)
    b) become vigilantes (which is kinda badass, but rather labor intensive)
    c) realize crime is what makes us sexy (as long as we’re not the victims of crime, which is a mood killer).
    d) all of the above.

  37. spencer
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    how’s that ford plant on Harriet st. working out for ya, or is it not working at all? I just happened to notice the U.A.W hall is for sale also. I didn’t realize chinese made parts were made right here in ypsi and then shipped to mexico, michigan for final assembly.

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