Guest Blogger: Lt. Ryan Gagnon
Our department values integrity, employees, service, and work environment. A big part of our value statement has to do with the men and women of the Auburn Hills Police Department. We have a great group of employees with diverse educational backgrounds and life experiences that really makes this a great place to work. Our value statement states, “We value all who demonstrate self motivation, pride in work, performance, patience and willingness to cooperate with others,”
On May 15th we had the privilege of honoring our employees at our annual awards banquet. We recognized numerous employees for the excellent work they have done over the last year. Some of the highlights of the night included Sergeant Jeremy Stubbs and Officer Ivette Brown being awarded the “Chief’s Award” for their innovation and dedication on the successful use of the department’s social media program.
Detective Brian Martin was recognized as the 2013 recipient of the Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club “Officer of the Year”. Detective Martin’s commitment to the mission of the department through his thorough investigations and attention to detail make him a deserving recipient this year.
Sergeant Rick Leonard was awarded a Department Citation for the actions he took while off duty in July 2012. Sgt. Leonard was up north at a family cottage when he observed a commotion on the lake. He immediately drove his boat over to the area and realized that a man had fallen under water and could not be located. Sgt. Leonard immediately jumped into the lake and retrieved the man from the bottom, in about 15 feet of water. Attempts were made to save the man’s life, but unfortunately he did not make it. Sgt. Leonard demonstrated courage and selflessness by trying to rescue this man and for his actions was awarded a department citation.
Ms. Kelley Fortuna received a standing ovation from the audience when she was awarded a “Citizen’s Award” for her actions in December 2012. Ms. Fortuna was stopped to report an accident on South Blvd. and I-75. An Auburn Hills police officer arrived at the scene and was in the process of getting out of his car when he was struck on the driver’s door by another vehicle traveling the opposite direction. The officer sustained serious injuries from the impact. Ms. Fortuna remained calm and called 911 to report the crash. She retrieved the officer’s medical bag from the trunk and provided medical aid until EMS arrived. Ms. Fortuna stayed with the officer and helped him to also remain calm until help arrived. We are grateful for her actions that day and honored to recognize her with this award.
Numerous awards were handed out this night to other members of the department. Overall it was a successful event and is always a privilege to recognize our staff for all of the hard work they do. It is an honor to serve alongside the great men and women of the Auburn Hills Police Department.
“Honor earned, never given.”
One of the many ways that we measure ourselves and assure you that we operate legally and ethically is by auditing our property and evidence function.
We come into possession of many kinds and types of property for a variety of reasons. We seize evidence of crimes–items that give information about the guilt or innocence of a person accused of a crime. We get all types of things: money, guns, drugs, TVs, clothing—all kinds of things. We seize contraband items, things that are against the law to possess. Illegal drugs for example. Sometimes people give us guns for safekeeping if a family member has expressed suicidal thoughts, as another example.
We take thousands of items every year and we must catalogue and manage these items until they can be returned to their rightful owner or be disposed of by one of the ways permitted under statute. Michigan law is quite specific about how police handle and dispose of property. Some items, like evidence in murder cases, must be kept forever–provisions must be made for that type of long-term storage.
In our department, access to the evidence room is highly controlled. It is under video surveillance all the time and only a select number of people have access to the room–I am not one of them. I must go to the evidence custodian to gain access to the room. It is all about limiting who has access.
Every now and then you read about police departments that mishandled evidence –or about departments that have members charged with crimes for stealing things that they got by virtue of being police. We never want to be one of them.
Our mission statement says:
We value, and are dedicated to, honest, loyal, and truthful behavior. We believe in the basic human right of all people to be treated equally, with dignity, courtesy, and respect under all circumstances.
Because we value integrity and take our ethics seriously, we submit ourselves to an outside audit every 5 years. The audit has been done by Robert Doran five times over the time I have been the chief. Doran is the foremost authority on police evidence management in the nation.
I am happy to report to you that we passed with flying colors. Congratulations to Lieutenant Ryan Gagnon, Technical Services Division Commander and Property Clerk, Gloria Guy for a successful audit.
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Please remember those who gave their lives for their communities on this important day.
It doesn’t seem quite possible–I was notified late last year that I have earned life membership in the foremost police leadership organization in the world–the International Association of Chief of Police. It means I have been a member for 20 years. I first joined when I was a lieutenant at the Meridian Township Police Department. I wanted to join the IACP because I aspired to be a police chief but few resources were available to me. One of the first hurdles I met was that to be a member you have to be sponsored by a current member. Getting a sponsor was no easy task –not many of the local chiefs thought I could or would be a chief and some thought I just shouldn’t be seeking it because I am a woman. But I finally managed to talk a member into it and I joined in 1992.
The IACP is a tremendous leadership organization for police and police leadership –they mentor and are thought leaders of police around the world–it is truly an international organization. And effective police leadership means effective police agencies and as we know, democracy is made possible by the actions of police who respect and uphold the rule of law.
I am proud to be a member in an organization that rises to meet the challenges of law enforcement. They have high quality initiatives in such important issues as violence against women, immigration, gun violence, less than lethal force use, officer wellness and suicide prevention and many, many others. They publish model policies to help chiefs direct their departments through the complex and ever-changing world of policing.
Back in December one of our officers, Martin Mikolajczak was hit by a car while investigating a crash on icy roads. He was struck by a car that went out of control on the icy bridge on South Boulevard over I-75. He said he had the door open and was partially out of the vehicle when he was hit by the careening car. The driver later said it was not his fault, he was traveling the speed limit. I don’t think he took into account the icy nature of the roads that day to adjust his speed and driving accordingly. As a result of the crash he was charged with committing a civil infraction causing serious injury. Martin was seriously injured. I responded to the hospital as did many of our officers and command officers. It is difficult to see one of our own so seriously injured. We know this is a dangerous job and we are again reminded when something like this happens. One of the leading causes of injury and death among police officers is roadway crashes and we know it. We train around that topic and we enforce the rules and laws on ourselves in our efforts to reduce the chance of injury or worse. The next few months were difficult for he and his family but police are a group that helps their own. Officers set up a schedule of who was driving him to his appointments, who was providing meal service, who was doing household chores, who was plowing his driveway. Being a newer officer, Martin wasn’t sure about accepting that much help. Now he realizes that it is part of police culture and when this happens to someone else I know he’ll be first in line to pay it forward. He had some surgery and therapy and I’m happy to report that he is back in a light duty capacity working inside the building. He is expecting (hoping) to be back on full duty at the end of the month. He looks great and is back to his friendly and capable police officer self. I saw him the other day taking a report in the lobby. As a Polish immigrant he speaks a couple of languages. The person giving the report was very animated and seemed very pleased to be able to talk with him in her native language. I think it must be reassuring to people for whom English is not their native language to be able to express themselves to a police officer more completely in a language with which they are familiar. Martin can do that. Every now and then someone asks me how he is doing and so now you can see for yourselves.Officer Hit By Car
By Bart R. Johnson, IACP Executive Director.
I received an email yesterday from Colonel Tim Alben of the Massachusetts State Police about the Boston bombings. His email to me read, in part:
Since 9/11, we've understood that the only way to defeat this terrorist threat is through collaborative efforts and partnerships between local, state and federal law enforcement. These partnerships are critical to any hope of success but talking about issues like this can often be easier than actual implementation.
When I read this I wanted to share it with you. I’m all about it. Building codes and fire safety codes DO keep us safe. In my new role as the Director of Emergency Services, I’ve been learning a great deal more about fire and building codes. I have great faith in our two fire inspectors and their partnership with our Building Official, Jeff Spencer and Community Development/Planning Director, Steve Cohen and their entire staff. Building collapse and horrible fires where many people lose their lives, can often be attributed to lack of code enforcement. It is critical to our safety as individuals and as a community.
So count me as alongside the Governor on this one.
Auburn Hills Firefighter Gary Chapman was chosen as the American Legion’s 2013 Firefighter of the Year for the State of Michigan. Firefighter Chapman will be recognized at the American Legion’s 95th
Annual State Convention on June 28, 2013 in Sault Ste Marie. In March of 2013 Chapman was selected as the Firefighter of the Year for Auburn Hills by the Auburn Hills American Legion Post 143. Chapman was then submitted to the state level with other firefighters from around the state from which he was chosen for the top honor.
Firefighter Chapman is a lifelong resident of Auburn Hills. His fire career expands more than 33 years. Chapman started as a paid on call firefighter in 1980 and was hired as a fulltime firefighter in February of 2002. During his career Chapman has earned many state certifications including Emergency Medical Technician, technical rescue and state certified fire instructor. Chapman currently serves as the fire training coordinator for the fire department. He is also a member of the Michigan Task Force and MABAS 3201 Technical Rescue teams. These teams perform advanced rescue operations during building collapse, trench collapse and high angle rescues.
Auburn Hills fire department Deputy Director James Manning said, “Based on his dedication to the community and fire service, it is not a surprise that Firefighter Chapman was selected as the American Legion’s Firefighter of the Year at the state level. We are very fortunate to have him within our organization.”
I think I’ve mentioned to you before how much we use technology to solve crime. Especially here in Oakland County. Lead Online is a new service that helps us find stolen property. We identified a perpetrator in a recent case that involved a burglary of one of our businesses. Some 2 way radios were taken in the burglary. We were able to find the radios which were sold on another on line site. While we weren’t able to secure the return of the radios we did identify and prosecute the person selling the stolen property. It is a great tool for investigators and again demonstrates the value of our partnership with CLEMIS to make Oakland County a safer place.
Interesting to follow the progress of Colorado’s experience with legalized recreational marijuana.