State police: No crimes reported on Belle Isle in 2017

The Detroit News

To say that crime is down at Belle Isle in 2017 is both technically true and an understatement: not a single crime was reported on the island from Jan. 1 through the end of April, Michigan State Police revealed Tuesday.

State police revealed crime statistics for the last five years, 2012 through 2016, and for the first four full months of 2017. Some 90 crimes were reported during that time span, though reports have trailed off in the last three years, when crime incidents totaled five in 2014, seven in 2015 and five in 2016. Those statistics account for non-aggravated assaults, weapons, narcotics, drugs, DUI, disorderly conduct and vandalism.

Belle Isle is Michigan’s most popular state park, and logged some 4 million visitors in 2016, a 14 percent increase from the 3.6 million visitors in 2015. In 2017, visitor numbers are expected to reach 4.2 million.

In 2012, 27 crimes were reported; in 2013, 45 were. When Belle Isle became a state park in February 2014, Michigan State Police took over patrols.

It didn’t take them long to set a tone. Mayor Mike Duggan and city clerk Janice Winfrey were both pulled over in 2014 and given verbal warnings for exceeding the 25 miles per hour speed limit.

As The News’ coverage said at the time: Duggan was traveling about 30 mph, told to slow down and given a warning, and had no problems with the conservation officer, according to spokesman John Roach said. But Duggan’s office offered no further comment.

City Councilwoman Brenda Jones said at the time: “The city clerk and the mayor are getting pulled over on the island? Are you kidding me? I don’t care who has control of our island. It’s truly not acceptable.”

But Lt. Mike Shaw, local spokesman for the Michigan State Police, told The News recently that “our troopers don’t write a lot of tickets,” that 90 percent of people who are pulled over are given warnings.

Said Shaw: “We let people know Belle Isle is a family place. The speed limit is the speed. I’m proud of the men and women of the Michigan State Police and Department of Natural Resources being able to go ahead and do what we said we would do from the beginning; make Belle Isle a nice place for people to come and visit and have picnics and watch the fireworks and do everything they are entitled to do.”

Shaw could not immediately be reached for comment on the most recent numbers.