“We are extremely proud of our recognition as one of the safest communities in the entire nation! We have a phenomenal team and an amazing proactive approach. We’re grateful for our partnership with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.” — Orion Twp. Supervisor Chris Barnett
By Jim Newell
Orion Township is one of the “safest cities” in America, according to a new report from SafeWise, an independent website that researches security issues and solutions.
SafeWise released its 2019 100 Safest Cities in America on March 6, ranking Orion Township as the 79th safest city/township.
The rankings were based on SafeWise’s review of the most recent FBI crime report statistics and census population data, said Krystal Rogers, SafeWise Community Engagement Manager. Cities that fell below identified population thresholds or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI were excluded from the ranking system.
The evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, SafeWise also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft), and calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city, according to Rogers.
The only other community in Oakland County to make the list was Milford, which ranked 58th, but has a smaller population (16,726, according to the report) than Orion Township’s approximately 40,000 residents.
The full report is available at www.safewise.com/safest-cities-america/.
And the report and ranking are good news for area law enforcement officials.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said his office is pleased to hear about the SafeWise report, and credits his deputies and Oakland County residents for the results.
“None of our success could happen without an involved citizenry,” Bouchard said. “Public safety is one of the most important aspects of the community.”
Bouchard noted that all of the sheriff’s office substations work collectively to keep Oakland County safe; through solving crimes, preventive measures and building relationships within each community.
“We don’t do it alone, and no one could do it alone,” Bouchard said. “Crime does not recognize borders. All of us working together in sync makes Oakland County a stronghold for safer communities.”
Bouchard said he is proud that two communities patrolled by sheriff’s office deputies made the SafeWise list.
“Absolutely. It does pop your buttons a little. Your chest swells with pride,” Bouchard said. “My pride, specifically, goes to the community and our deputies, the deputies on the front line every day.”
Lt. Dan Toth, commander of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Orion Twp. Substation, said collaboration with businesses, schools and homeowners’ associations, prosecutors, courts, churches and community groups are all measures the department uses to help ensure a safer community.
Toth notes that the SafeWise report used credible FBI crime report data from 2017 – the most recent year that is released – and census data in its rankings. He added that police agencies submit their crime data to state law enforcement each year, and then that information is forwarded to the FBI.
“For a community this size, in the middle of metro Detroit, that is very good news,” Toth said. “I’m glad we were recognized for it. I think it’s good for the township. For the chair I’m sitting in, it’s for the officers who are doing it day in and day out.”
Toth said the Orion Township Substation averages about 50 calls for service every 24 hours, but noted that crime reports are actually down.
Orion Township’s 2018 crime reports saw a 16 percent decrease from 2017, while calls for service (CFS) rose from 17,478 in 2017 to 17,728 in 2018. Over the past seven years, calls for service, along with population, have increased 18 percent, while actual crime reports have been reduced 38 percent.
“We are very proud that Orion Township has very few violent crimes or crimes against people with unknown offenders,” Toth said. “In fact, type A crimes against people with unknown offenders can be counted on your fingers in 2018.
“It didn’t happen overnight. We’ve been working toward that steadily,” he said.
While violent crimes are trending downward, there are, however, some types of crimes which Toth’s department has seen increase: embezzlement and fraud (especially with phones and other electronic devices), substance abuse-related crimes and crimes that have a mental health component.
Orion Township did not have any major robberies or serious felonies against people in 2018, Toth said.
“We’re very pleased. We had a good year. Having a reputation as one of the safest communities draws businesses, homeowners, work, school – safety is a huge factor,” he said.
In Michigan, Orion Township consistently ranks as one of the safest communities with a population of more than 25,000 residents.
During his State of the Township address in April 2018, Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett said the township was ranked the 14th safest community in the state by the National Council for Home Safety and Security in 2018.