School Bus Enforcement Zones

It is back to school time again next week.  And we want to remind you that school buses will be out on the roads again.  Here is a video about stopping for school buses.

 We would like you to know that we will be conducting school bus enforcement activities on random dates.  That means that we’ll have an officer on a bus somewhere in town who will be acting as a spotter.  He or she will call other following officers when they see a driver pass a bus illegally.  The officers following will be making traffic stops on the violators.

So leave plenty of time to get where you are going so you won’t be tempted to pass a stopped school bus and get a ticket.

Have a great school year.

How Much Military Equipment Does AHPD Have?

Virtually none is the answer.  We have about 7 ceremonial rifles used by our Honor Guard.  That’s it. DSCN3270

We’ve seen these programs come and go over the years based on what is happening with the military and what war they are or are not engaged in. We have not seen a lot of usefulness for us in the military surplus.  We don’t need armored personnel carriers or grenade launchers.  Police and the military don’t do the same job.  The military mission is to win this country’s wars on foreign soil.   There are times and places for some kinds of military equipment for police but they are very few and very far between.  In contrast, we are part of the fabric of our community.  Which means that we do our job in ways that builds trust with our community.  We want you to know you can count on us to be fair and to do the right things while doing our job in the most professional way possible.  And we know that relationship is built over long experience.

We don’t have a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team here in Auburn Hills.  We have trained our officers to a higher level to be able to take some kinds of actions to protect themselves and rescue others.  Often being able to act quickly can resolve a situation before it devolves into a crisis.  We have been local leaders in less lethal force options because we believe that you want us to take that step first, if we can.  When we have exhausted our options and we have need for a SWAT team we call the Sheriff’s Office or the State Police who work with us to achieve a necessary end. But the responsibility for our community is still ours–we don’t turn it over to someone else to make decisions for what is right in our town.  The SWAT teams are leaving when it is all over–we are staying.

DSC_2604So the same people you see at National Night Out handing out raffle prizes or in your neighborhood registering your child’s bike or the school officer at your child’s school or having lunch in our local restaurants or giving safety talks at preschools and businesses are the same people who will make decisions in our town when a crisis occurs.  We have invested our lives here, we know people here and we understand how this community wants to be policed and their expectations of us.

And we don’t see a role for military grade weaponry.  That is not what we are about.



So What Were Officers Doing Along Squirrel Road This Week?

I’ve gotten some questions this week about what has been going on along Squirrel Road this week.  Officers were seen seat beltstanding in medians and along the roadside at Walton and near Featherstone.  

They are doing specialized traffic enforcement with overtime dollars provided by the Office of Highway Safety Planning.  For a couple of hours at a time we put a spotter (the standing officer) by the roadside and he or she looks for people not wearing seatbelts or people texting while driving.  When they see a violator they call out the vehicle description and description of what the driver was specifically doing (in the case of texting).  Then other cars waiting up ahead make the stop and ticket the driver.  We use a sign like the one at right so we really aren’t sneaking up on you.  

Not using a seatbelt greatly increases the likelihood of serious injury in a traffic crash.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons ages 5-34 in the US according to the CDC.  The safety systems in vehicles now are a combination of the airbags and seatbelts.  Do yourself and the rest of us a favor by wearing it and helping to reduce the costs related to traffic crashes–estimated at $70 billion in 2005.    

And texting is one of the complaints I hear about most.  It has fast become one of the biggest crash causers.  Don’t multi task while driving.  Driving IS multi tasking all by itself.  

And especially don’t forget to use child safety seats for your children–it is the law.  If you aren’t sure how to properly install the seat, call the station for an appointment with a seat technician here.  

Wear your belt and don’t text while driving then you won’t have to worry about what they are doing out there.  

The Public Safety Tipping Point: When Saving Money Loses Lives

I thought I’d share this great brief article from Governing magazine.  It was written by a former mayor of Kansas City.

The Public Safety Tipping Point: When Saving Money Loses Lives.

The FBI National Academy Through the Eyes of Lt. Jill McDonnell

Every few years we have the opportunity to send one of our executive command staff members to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.  Command level personnel attend classes for 10 weeks to study policing best practices.  They attend with other police executives from around the country and the world.  It is a prized policing credential and brings value to our agency and community.  Lt. Jill McDonnell, our Investigations Division Commander, is there right now and sent back this account.  

I am at the 257th FBI National Academy, in Quantico, Virginia. This journey started almost 2 years ago, shortly after I was promoted.  I applied to the Academy through and was sponsored by our local FBI resident agent.  After a background and a physical I received my letter of acceptance.

The 10 week long academy usually host 250 law enforcement representatives from around the world.  But because of academy building construction and several new agent and Intel analyst schools going on the number was reduced.  In my class or session as they call it there are 212 attendees, from 49 states, 26 Countries and 3 branches of the military, of those there are 18 women. There are 3 other Michigan representatives here with me. (Canton Police Chief, Lieutenants from Ann Arbor and Wayne County Sheriffs Department.

The academy is on the Marine Base at Quantico VA.  It is on a campus, which is part of a large federal training facility for FBI, DEA and ATF.  The FBI lab and infamous Hogan’s Alley are located on the FBI National Academy Campus.

It is like being in college as an adult, and the police academy at the same time with a few more restrictions.  We are housed in a dorm and eat in a cafeteria. Tunnels connect dorms with the classroom buildings.  I have a roommate and suite mates.  My roommate Denea is a Lieutenant with the Capitol Police, she is responsible for protection of the 10 important Congressional delegates.  My suite mates Liz is a Major in the US Army Military Police she has done 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. My other suite mate Karyn is an international student from New Zealand. She is a Commander with the New Zealand National Police.

Our days are kept busy with college classes (via Virginia Univ.) that we selected before coming to the academy. In addition to our classes, on Wednesdays we have physical challenges to prepare us for the infamous “Yellow Brick Road”  that will take place in week 9.  They also have quest speakers in the afternoons or evenings. Like college if there is free time on these days people do laundry, homework or sneak in a nap.

As one of our enrichment activities we toured the Holocaust Museum. One of our tour guys was a survivor.  On a Wednesday evening we had a memorial service/wreath laying ceremony at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC. We traveled in a motorcade escorted by the DC Park Police.  People were waiving and taking photos and videos as we passed.

There are extra curricular trips that are sponsored and organized by session attendees from New York and Philadelphia.  I took advantage of the opportunity to go to New York.  97/212 of us traveled on two buses from Quantico to New York, New York.  We arrived early enough, thanks to police escorts, to hit the town Friday evening. Five of us bought tickets to a Broadway show.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with planned activities.   On Saturday, we left the hotel in the morning to head to NYPD special operations division at the aviation hanger.  There we received a search and rescue demonstration and were provided lunch.  From there we were taken to 1 Police Plaza  (NYPD headquarters) for a tour. We got to see their “real time crime center” and the room where they hold their infamous COMPstat meetings.  After that we had few hours on our own, so we toured Chinatown and Little Italy before heading to dinner.  We dined as a group at Carmines, a famous Italian restaurant.  The NYPD Bigpipers provided the entertainment.  After a wonderful dinner some of us walked over to the Empire State Building.  We went up to the observation deck to check out the city at night.

Sunday morning the NYPD benevolent association provided us with a continental breakfast as we boarded our buses to head to NY Fireboat. We got to a ride aboard their large fireboat in the East River up to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and under the Brooklyn Bridge.  The same boat that help rescue people from the plane that landed in the Hudson River.  Certainly this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience.   Following our   boat ride we re-boarded our buses to head to the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower (1 World Trade Center).   The New York PD honor guard did a wreath laying ceremony at the 9/11 memorial. Then we toured the 9/11 memorial museum.  A very moving place that invokes numerous emotions it is a place everyone should visit.

One of our session members is with the Port Authority Police Department arranged for us to go up in the Freedom Tower which is still under construction.  We were allowed to the 63 floor to take in the view. When completed the Freedom tower will be the tallest building in New York.

Then we boarded our buses for a long ride back the Quantico, VA.

We just finished week number 4.  I am lucky to be heading home to see my family. Some others from the west coast or international students are not as fortunate.  When I get back from my weekend I will be finishing up two research papers, 2 group presentations, 1 lone presentation and two short papers. These classes will earn me college masters credits.

The amazing thing I have learned while here is that whether the department is large or small rural or urban US or abroad we all have similar issues.  The big topic with many agencies is recruitment and retention of employees.  Even the Major City Chiefs that were at the academy for a summit were discussing the issue.

I am looking forward to the next six weeks and returning to work sometime around September  29th.

For more information on the academy go to:

Why Do Fire Engines Go On Medical Calls?

I was at the Dream Cruise on Woodward last week and had an opportunity to see some other fire departments at work.   We saw one EMS run that included both an ambulance and a fire engine following.  Now I don’t know what the call was so I don’t know what was needed.  But I do know a bit about this sort of thing in general.  It is a question that comes up frequently.  A-2

Back awhile ago,  we frequently sent an engine on the same calls with an ambulance because we didn’t have detailed enough information about the call to know exactly what was  needed to treat the patient or take the needed action.  There are 2 people on the ambulance–most of the time it is two paramedics but it could be one medic and one EMT (Emergency Medical Technician–it is a state licensing category).  And there are another 1 or 2 on the engine.  As of June of this year, we began using Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD) which is a dispatching strategy using flip cards or software to question callers about the nature of the medical emergency in such a detailed way that we can classify a call’s emergency status.  Our dispatch staff had to go through significant training to operate under the system.  (It is carefully monitored so we also have frequent quality reviews to make sure we are doing it correctly.)  So now we know what is likely to be happening at the call so we can more accurately send the right apparatus and personnel.  For certain types of calls that indicate high likelihood of a life threatening event–like trouble breathing or chest pain–we know that we need all hands on deck because if it is likely to be a CPR call which will require lots of on scene personnel to do all the tasks it takes.  Others receive a lower classification if call is determined to be a lower priority.  Some are even answered without lights and sirens.  It is very dangerous for the motoring public and for us to drive lights and sirens anywhere–so we minimize the times we do it.

Our police and fire operate on two different radio talk groups and don’t usually listen to each other since both radio groups tend to be pretty busy and “step” on each other’s transmissions.  The dispatch listens to and dispatches on both groups.  With EMD when dispatchers find that a medical call is classified by the software or on the flip cards as a life threatening emergency, the police are also dispatched because they can get there more quickly and we don’t have to send another apparatus with more firefighters.  They can locate the patient and begin some forms of treatment (like CPR or automatic defibrillator).  When the patient is transported, they go back on patrol.  We get a quicker, more effective response with both groups working more efficiently together.  Previously, police didn’t respond for the most part because it was a waste of time to send one or more officers along with 2 fire apparatus to every medical call, “just in case.”  It is just more efficient for both groups.

By limiting the number responding to any one call, we stay ready for the next call.  Now that we are providing advanced medical care ourselves, without the public/private partnership, sometimes you’ll see only the fire engine on a medical call.  That means that the 2 ambulances are busy on other calls so we’ve sent EMTs or paramedics, they are just on another type of apparatus.  They can treat you-they just can’t transport you.  As soon as an ambulance frees up, you will be on the way to the hospital.

It is a closely coordinated system and we monitor it closely.  We have found that it works efficiently for both police and fire.

Check out the Traffic Safety Brewing Company


State traffic safety officials are taking an unusual approach to a serious issue by introducing the fictitious Traffic Safety Brewing Company complete with a new summer traffic safety six-pack at bars and restaurants across the state. The launch coincides with a statewide drunk driving and seat belt enforcement crackdown today through Sept. 1.

The faux brewing company and spoof beverage list with items such as “Call A Cab Cider” and “Designated Driver Dark” were developed by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) to convey a positive approach to individual responsibility while drinking.

OHSP partnered with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association to distribute the spoof beer list to the group’s more than 1,100 members to promote safety and responsibility among their patrons.

“The Traffic Safety Brewing Company beer list may be amusing but the message is serious. Whether you are enjoying a Michigan microbrew or your favorite wine or spirit, make the right choices about getting home safely because law enforcement officers are experts at stopping and arresting drunk drivers,” said OHSP director Michael L. Prince.

Law enforcement officers from 150 local police departments, sheriff’s offices and Michigan State Police posts covering the counties of Alpena, Antrim, Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Charlevoix, Chippewa, Cheboygan, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Emmet, Genesee, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Leelanau, Livingston, Mackinac, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Menominee, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Otsego, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford are participating in the larger, nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown.

Motorists are also being warned about the increased drunk driving and seat belt patrols through a statewide advertising campaign. The campaign and stepped-up enforcement are paid for with federal traffic safety funds coordinated by OHSP.

During last year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over effort, 267 motorists were arrested for drunk driving and 4,119 seat belt and child restraint citations were issued.

We are on board–we had seat belt enforcement units out today–maybe you saw them.

Wear your seat belt and don’t drink and drive.  Have a safe weekend.


If You Need Us Call Us-Don’t Message Us on Facebook or Twitter

I was reviewing our social media sites today and I was surprised at how many people contacted us to report traffic conditions around Great Lakes Crossings Mall.  I wasn’t surprised that they contacted us to let us know but I was surprised by the method they used.  There was one who asked for help because traffic was gridlocked.  Fortunately a dispatcher saw it and answered relatively quickly but I want you to remind you that we don’t monitor our Twitter or Facebook accounts 24×7.  We just don’t have the personnel to do that.  Our dispatchers do the best they can but their primary responsibility is to answer 911 calls and non emergency calls for police, fire and EMS.  I don’t want to kid you–if there is a big structure fire or big traffic crash or other major event, the phone calls are getting answered first.  No one is checking Facebook or Twitter at all.

By far the best way to reach us is the phone call.  We answer 911 calls first–they have the highest priority.  Secondly we answer the non emergency line.  A very far distant 3rd is monitoring our social media.  We say that right on the pages–call don’t send us a message if you need our help.  Our entire national 911 system is set up to get you to us when you call.  Facebook, Twitter and text messages are not fail safe like 911.  Our non emergency number is 248-370-9444.

Just a reminder.

BTW there is still construction on Baldwin taking it to one lane.  We recommend Joslyn as the way to enter the mall this weekend.   I’m sure there are great bargains just waiting but bring along your patience when you come to shop.



MADD Honors Police Officers from Around the State

Every year Mothers Against Drunk Driving Michigan has a luncheon to honor officers who fight the fight to end drunk driving.  Today was the lunch in Troy with more than 200 law enforcement officers, police chiefs and command officers in attendance.  We are asked to nominate an officer for the award each year.  This year’s honoree was Officer Chris Willour who has been the recipient previously.  We are proud of Chris’ work to arrest drunk and drugged drivers and make the roads safe for the rest of us.  Chris works midnights and was telling me that he made an arrest on a drugged driver at 6 this morning.  Chris takes his job seriously and although his shift ended at 7 am he didn’t pass this individual by–he took the action he should have taken and made the arrest.  We were happy that his wife could join us at lunch today as well.

The lunch is also widely attended by MADD members many of whom have been victimized by drunk drivers.  The emcee was a radio host from WWJ CBS Detroit, Brooke Allen.  She told the audience about her personal experience when her husband was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago. It was incredibly tragic. But she is clearly a survivor and her story served to encourage officers to keep up the fight.

Andthere wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Officer John Cleveland of the Ferndale Police Department told his personal story.  His 3 year old daughter was killed in the family van when it was hit by a drunk driver in 2012.  I heard the story of Officer Cleveland’s tragedy last year when he told it at the same event.  It is wrenching to hear a father describe the events of that day and after.  The Cleveland family has channeled their grief into support for MADD and police officers arresting drunk drivers everyday.  The family established an Oliva Cleveland Award this year to honor an officer engaged in this work.  This year the award went to Officer Mindy Weingart of Troy Police for an exceptional number of drunk and drugged driving arrests.

As I listened to Officer Cleveland tell his story I was thinking about another drunk driving crash–many, many years ago.   I had an uncle I never knew–he was killed by a drunk driver as a 10 year old boy riding his bicycle near his home.  The driver along with 3 of his friends had been having a party in the middle of the day.  After the boy was hit in front of his home, the car simply drove away.  Later when he was located, he received a ticket but he was never arrested or spent 1 day in jail.  My grandmother, who saw the crash and held her son in her arms as he died, suffered his loss every day for the rest of her life.   I heard the story frequently as I was growing up and I knew the effect on her and the entire family.  Later, when I was a patrol officer arresting drunk drivers,  the violators would frequently tell me how I was ruining their lives by arresting them.  I knew that wasn’t true–I was saving someone else’s life.

And so it is with these officers, they are saving someone’s life.  It was my honor to be with them today, to applaud their efforts and to support the work of MADD.

Congratulations, Officer Willour–I thank you and I’m proud of the work you do for this community.

Deputy Director Thom Hardesty, Officer Chris Willour and me at the MADD Lunch 2014

Deputy Director Thom Hardesty, Officer Chris Willour and me at the MADD Lunch 2014

National Night Out Photos

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Still more photos

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