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Incident report clarified


To the Editor:

On June 10, the Grosse Pointe News published an article written by staff writer Jennie Miller, "Wave of trouble calls for police and school action," regarding an incident that occurred at Beacon Elementary School.

The article stated that three fourth-grade girls were assaulted by a gang of youths at the Beacon Elementary School playground and that Detroit police officers came to the rescue in the incident.

This incident did not occur as reported and has caused unnecessary fear in our residents and reflects negatively on the Harper Woods Police Department.

The Harper Woods Police Department has maintained a good relationship with the reporters from the Grosse Pointe News and has made information regarding crime incidents readily available. Unfortunately, in this incident the police department was not contacted and the reporter failed to verify the facts prior to publication.

The incident that was referenced in the article actually involved a 12-year-old boy, his 9-year-old female cousin and three girls ages 8, 9 and 10.

The 12-year-old boy was reported to be inciting his 9-year-old female cousin to beat up other girls and the 8-year-old went home and told her parents. The father of the 8-year-old is a Harper Woods resident and a Detroit police officer who was off duty.

When the parents of the 8-year-old arrived, they observed the 12-year-old still trying to get his cousin to pick a fight. The father talked to the boy and the mother talked to the girls who advised that the boy had exposed himself to them.

The Harper Woods Police Department was contacted and an officer made the location and took the boy into custody. The boy was turned over to his parents and the youth bureau is conducting an investigation and will make recommendation to the juvenile court.

The parents were justifiably upset by this incident and they came to voice their concerns at the council meeting.

The police department routinely patrols the parks and schools, and in response to the concerns of the parents has increased patrol coverage at Beacon Elementary School. The incident did not involve a gang of youths nor was any assistance required by the Detroit Police Department.

Misrepresenting the facts of this case in the Grosse Pointe News fosters unnecessary concern for our residents.

The city of Harper Woods is a safe community and a great place to raise children. Crime in Harper Woods has declined over the years and this department shows great dedication in making the community safe. Our parks and playgrounds are safe places to play and are regularly used by children in the community.

The Harper Woods Police Department has an average response time of three minutes and responds to a fill spectrum of community requests.

To illustrate the crime improvements, in 1982 this department recorded 1,977 index crimes; in 2003 the department recorded a total of 1,642 index crimes. If current trends continue we will enjoy even lower crime in the community this year.

The readers of the Grosse Pointe News should be able to rely on the fact that the news reported is accurate. Failure to verify the accuracy of the information printed does a disservice to your readers and their communities.

Randolph Skotarczyk

Lieutenant

Harper Woods Police Department

Editor's note: The incident referred to was reported to the city council at its Monday night meeting. At that time, no one from the police department disputed any of the facts as they were reported. Secondly, the report was withheld from our reporter when she did police rounds earlier Monday because, according to the lieutenant, the department did not feel the incident was newsworthy. Obviously, the residents who reported the incident to the city council disagree. Lastly, the lieutentant's version of the incident is not substantively different than that told to the city council and subsequently reported in this newspaper.

Randolph Skotarczyk
Harper Woods Police Department
June 16, 2004

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