Caro Police Department

Caro Police Department

Arresting statistic: Caro police stopping more drivers

Caro City Manager Ryan Piche, left, listens as Caro Mayor Joe Greene expresses concerns about the Caro Police Department leaving city limits to assist other agencies during January. Greene said he plans to address the situation at a later date. (Photo by Tom Gilchrist)
Caro City Manager Ryan Piche, left, listens as Caro Mayor Joe Greene expresses concerns about the Caro Police Department leaving city limits to assist other agencies during January. Greene said he plans to address the situation at a later date. (Photo by Tom Gilchrist)

If it seems like Caro Police Department officers have been pulling over more motorists lately around the Tuscola County seat, they have.
City officers made 821 traffic stops in 2016, a 33 percent increase from the 616 traffic stops made the year before, according to the Caro Police Department’s annual report.
Officers made 26 arrests of drivers operating while intoxicated or operating under the influence of drugs in 2016. That’s up from 16 such arrests in 2015.
“We hired two more guys that are quite young, and they just started out, so they’re more aggressive,” said Patrolman Michael Mitin, a 19-year veteran of the police department in Caro, with a population of about 4,138.
Mitin, interviewed by The Advertiser at Monday night’s Caro Village Council meeting, called the arrival of Patrolman Michael Fowler, Patrolman Robert Gaiser and Patrolman Alex Jobes “good for the town.”
The trio has been hired in about the last 15 months, said Mitin.
Fowler and Gaiser are “fresh out of the (police) academy, and Alex Jobes came to us from the Huron County Sheriff’s Department,” Mitin said.
The annual report issued by Caro Police Chief Brian V. Newcomb notes the department comprises a full-time chief, six full-time patrolmen, three part-time patrolmen and four crossing guards.
Caro officers issued 856 verbal warnings following traffic stops in 2016, a 41 percent increase from 607 verbal warnings the year before, according to the report. A total of 192 traffic citations were issued in 2016, up from 178 traffic citations the year before.
“There’s a lot more traffic in town, and (motorists) — with the texting — don’t drive very well, either,” Mitin said. “They’re making it easier to make traffic stops, that’s for sure.”
The three newer patrolmen — along with full-time patrolmen Mitin, Steven Repkie and Paul Strasz — belong to a department that has seen its numbers decline during the past two decades, Mitin said.
“When I started in 1998, I was the ninth or 10th full-time officer, and we had a sergeant and a full-time secretary, so we’re down from that in the 19 years I’ve been here,” Mitin said.
“We need a sergeant and a secretary. The funds are down, but it would be nice to have somebody present in the schools as a school resource officer. That’s what they really need.”
Caro Police Department officers handled 397 complaints per officer in 2016, according to Newcomb’s report. That’s an increase from 270 complaints per officer handled in 2000 when eight full-time officers worked for the department.
Newcomb’s monthly report for January, submitted to city council and City Manager Ryan Piche, showed the Caro Police Department assisting other departments 20 times that month.
Caro Mayor Joe Greene took issue with the department leaving city limits to assist other agencies.
“Another concern I had was our officers running to Cass City and Unionville for assists,” Greene told council members.
Of the 20 assists, “we had six out-of-town calls where we’re providing police services in the townships — those are things we have to address at a later time,” Greene said.
Mitin said the Caro Police Department depends on assists from other agencies, too, noting “Everybody needs help.”
When asked his opinion on the Caro department’s trips to the village of Cass City to assist on a reported domestic assault in progress, and to the village of Unionville for a reported assault in progress, Mitin said “Really, two times isn’t that much, I don’t think.”
“In all fairness to the other departments — the (Tuscola County) sheriff’s department and the Michigan State Police — they help us more than we help them,” Mitin said.
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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