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Beline Obeid
December 20, 2012
THE GROSSE POINTES — A private organization of top law enforcement veterans is helping police departments investigate crime.

Assistance is offered at no charge. Nor are there expectations of getting something in return.

“If there’s a quid pro quo, it’s us being allowed to continue to serve,” said Ellis Stafford, operations manager of the Detroit Crime Commission.

Stafford is a retired assistant commander of the Michigan State Police special operations division.

He and other top area veterans, such as a former head of the Detroit FBI, belong to an organization featuring multi-lingual intelligence analysts, statisticians and investigators.

Their mission is to help local agencies track and anticipate criminal activity.

The process includes intelligence-led policing.

“We take the data and apply an analytical to it, which gives back understanding,” Stafford said.

Law enforcement agencies can use the tool to investigate such crimes as larcenies and vehicle theft, for instance.

“Those are things we can get really granular with — where, when and what,” Stafford said. “It allows you to deploy forces in a more efficient manner.”

Commission members met with most Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods public safety directors and detectives this month at the Farms Pier Park community center.

“They can provide assistance for things that are not our expertise, like white collar crime, mortgage fraud and grant writing,” said Dan Jensen, Farms chief.

“The Detroit Crime Commission will be an excellent resource,” said Stephen Poloni, City chief. “They have a vast amount of experience and time on the job in our field. They have great assets.”

Crime commissions aren’t new.

Chicago’s is more than 100 years old. New York City’s has operated nearly 60 years.

Each commission seems to have a particular focus.

“New York’s main thrust is to influence legislation that impacts public safety,” Stafford said.

Detroit’s commission is more like one in Louisiana, he said.

“They look at public corruption type of investigation,” Stafford said.

The Detroit commission, founded nearly 1 1/2 years ago, has no power of arrest.

“But,” Stafford said, “we can do things that we couldn’t do in our respective agencies,” such as fishing expeditions, slang for conducting investigations without criminal predicate.

“(United States) Attorney guidelines prevent the FBI or Department of Justice from just looking at things because they want to,” Stafford said. “We can. If, for whatever reason, there’s something afoot, we can look at it.”

During a time of shrinking municipal budgets, police resources sometimes can’t match many officers’ wherewithal to undertake demanding investigations.

“You have great investigators out there,” Stafford said. “We’re trying to make their jobs a little easier.”

“We welcome any opportunity to work with anybody and everybody to keep crime in check,” Jensen said.

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