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May 17, 1996 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-05-17

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ish law) or resorting to vigilan-
Dr. Herschfus joined more
than 150 Southfield residents
who filled the gymnasium at
Schoenhals Elementary School
on Tuesday evening to hear
Southfield Police Chief Joseph
Thomas address some of the in-
cidents that have lately plagued
the neighborhood. The area of
concern is bounded roughly by 10
and 11 Mile roads between
Greenfield and Southfield. After-
ward, Dr. Herschfus pledged to
circulate a newsletter among the
Orthodox Jewish community that
would state halachic positions on
"mechanical mobilization."
For example, he said, physi-
cians in New York City may ride
in ambulances on Shabbat if
there is an emergency.
While an Orthodox Jewish
contingent was strongly evident
on Tuesday, so was the presence
of non-Jewish residents, black
and white. Their concerns ranged
from teen-agers drinking in cars
to littering and harassing pedes-
trians, most notably in the 1-696
deck park at Lincoln, west of
Late last month, two men on
their way to Yeshiva Beth Yehu-
dah with their children were ac-
costed in the park by three teens
who taunted them and knocked
off one of the men's hats. Two
other pedestrians walked over,
scattering the teens, but not be-
fore the pedestrians were ver-
bally threatened.
A week later, also on a Satur-
day evening, a man leaving the
area of the yeshiva with his two
sons noticed two teens standing
near a door of the building. When
he asked them to leave, they
threatened to return and "mess
him up," police said. When the
teens finally left, he went over to
the area of the door and noticed
a puddle of what he assumed was
Police and code enforcement
patrols in the area have been in-
creased, particularly on week-
ends. Chief Thomas told the
crowd that a variation of the Ea-
gle Eye program, which puts
emergency management per-
sonnel on the road and on foot
during busy times like week-
ends, will get under way on
Memorial Day weekend. The
new patrols will police the deck
park area, along . with Inglenook
Park in the 12 Mile-Lahser area,
on a daily basis. Chief Thomas
said he plans to commit a police
officer to the neighborhood in
the fall.
But his message on Tuesday
was heard loud and clear by Dr.
"We need your participation.
We need your help," Chief
Thomas intoned.
"We want to nip nuisance
crimes in the bud by using prob-
lem-solving techniques in the
neighborhood before they be-

come serious crimes. We want
to form a partnership, coopera-
tion and participation with the
neighbors. I think together we
can do it."
That means truly living up to
the credo to "love thy neighbor,"
he said. "It really works when
you care enough about your
neighbors to report suspicious ac-
Chief Thomas, who's been at
the helm of the Southfield police
since 1991, said he attempted
last year to get residents to form
a mobile watch program in which
they would drive around neigh-
borhoods watching for suspicious
incidents. But the idea met with
very little interest.
Many of the residents at
Tuesday's meeting wondered
why police can't arrest people
seen in an area where a crime
has occurred or why it has tak-
en more than 15 minutes for po-
lice to get to a scene. Chief
Thomas explained that unless
police see a misdemeanor being
committed, they cannot simply
pick up a suspect off the street.
However, they can stop suspects
if they believe there has been in-
volvement in a crime, run a com-
puter check and put their name
in police files or even get an ar-
rest warrant.
And, of course, the better the
identification by a victim or a wit-
ness, the likelier an arrest or a
Southfield detectives, in con-
junction with Oak Park police,
are "closing in" on at least one
of the three teens who harassed
the two men in the deck park
April 27, thanks to help from the
victims. Chief Thomas said po-
lice may arrest one or more of
the teens on charges of assault.
Moshe Lichtenstein, who or-
ganized Tuesday's meeting,
briefly explained to the crowd
Jewish laws against using the
telephone, turning on lights and
driving cars on Shabbat.
"We should know we have
neighbors who are kind enough
to open their doors and make
a call for us, whether (a crime)
is directed specifically at the
Orthodox Jewish community
or it's just kids being kids," he
Mr. Lichtenstein told the au-
dience he planned on scheduling
another neighborhood meeting
in a few weeks.
Despife the fears of residents,
their complaints'tended to veer
toward the smaller crimes.
That left Chief Thomas feeling
good about police efforts.
"Nobody complained about
very serious crimes. Very serious
crimes are under control. The
nuisance, harassment, aggra-
vating crimes were the focal point
of the conversation Tuesday
night; so I was pleased to see we
are working together and have
brought under control serious in-
cidents," he said.



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