SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – In a 10-year span, Southfield has reduced its violent crimes by more than 70 percent.
Back in 2003, the Southfield Police Department realized it had to reduce the number of violent crimes, which was more than 1,000. It also realized it needed help to do it. That help came from partnering with city government, schools and the neighborhoods -- and man has it worked.
"We didn't reinvent the wheel with this thing," said Chief Eric Hawkins.
No, but what Hawkins and his team have done is find a way to reduce crime year after year consistently. When the latest stats came in, someone randomly looked at the last 10 years.
"We were astonished ourselves," said Hawkins. "I attribute that to the collaborative efforts between the schools, city government, residents in this community."
FBI crime stats don't lie: Violent crime -- which is murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault -- declined almost every year from 2003 to 2013. In total, 810 fewer -- a 76 percent reduction. Those violent crimes were committed by mostly people 18 to 26 years old, which made education a key to that three-pronged plan.
"The graduates of our school system are going on to colleges and universities, or are in trade schools, and so we're not seeing this 18 to 26 years group of individuals out there committing crimes," said Hawkins.
Such a drop in crime was surprising to Southfield residents, too.
"It's great, but it's surprising to me given all the violence I've seen in this community and the schools," said Mark Graves, who both lives and works in Southfield.
Baiil Jacob works in the city.
"This is very good for people to live in the city. People to invest. Overall it's very good for the state of Michigan," he said.
Property crime also was down by 52 percent in that same time. The department credits that with not cutting community policing at a time where so many departments were forced to.