I can assure you that it was a safe time. We had 46 calls for service in the whole retail area around the Great Lakes Crossings Mall including the area across the freeway along Brown Rd for the whole 4 day weekend. That is a smaller number than we had last year which was 50 calls for service. And by calls for service I don’t mean crime reports –I mean calls where we assisted people, welfare checks, stuff like that-service runs. Of the 46 we only had 10 that were reported crimes–all related to thefts, mostly shoplifting. No crimes against persons like robberies, no car thefts, serious crimes like that. We pride ourselves on our work to prevent crime everywhere in our city.
But no matter where you are, you should always think how to be safe. Here are some tips for the holiday season:
- Keep your purse close to your body.
- Avoid talking on cell phones as you walk through malls, parking lots. Phone conversations are a distraction that makes you vulnerable to robbers.
- Don’t resist if someone tries to take any of your belongings. Don’t chase someone who robs you, they may have a weapon. Instead call 911.
- If you go to an automatic teller machine for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well lit and in a safe location.
- Carry only the credit cards you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Do not buy more than you can carry
- If you make a purchase with your credit card, be sure to obtain the carbons or see that they are destroyed in front of you.
- If you are shopping with small children make a plan in case you are separated from each other
- Beware of the “a good deal” scams. Things are not always what they appear to be.
- Before surfing the internet, secure your personal computers by updating security software.
- Keep your personal information private and your passwords are secure.
- When ordering on-line use a credit card instead of a debit card. It is much easier to cancel a credit card if an account number is illegally obtained.
- Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
- Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
- Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
- When parking your vehicle to go shopping, remember where you parked it! Always park in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Do not park in a remote dark area.
- When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside. Check to see if you are being followed.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. You will be ready to unlock the door and will not be delayed by fumbling and looking for your keys.
- When storing items purchased at the stores, place them out of sight. The best place is in a locked trunk.
- Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cellular telephone in plain view.
- Drive defensively. Traffic is heavier during the holidays. Drivers may also have indulged in too much holiday spirits.
- Always lock your doors and windows, even if you plan to be out for a short amount of time
- Leave lights turned on both inside and outside your residence after dark. Criminals do not like bright places.
- If you plan on being away from home for several days, make arrangements to have someone pick up your mail and newspapers. An overstuffed mailbox is sure sign that no one is home and burglars are tempted to check those envelopes for holiday gifts. The use of automatic lights inside the home will give an appearance that someone is present.
- Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
- When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doorways and passageways are clear inside your home.
- Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.
- If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring may cause a fire.
- If you are purchasing toys for small children, be sure that they are safe. You will be surprised what a small child can swallow or what can injure them.
- Have something to eat before consuming alcoholic beverages;
- Eat high protein foods that will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system;
- Remember only time will eliminate the alcohol from your body;
- Have a designated driver or a cab to ensure your safe travels home.
- Know your safe limit; and never drink and drive.
Today we said good bye to Officer Patrick Becker who retires on Friday after 25 years of service.
Although his official last day is Friday, today fellow officers and city employees got together to wish Pat well as he starts his new life. He told me he is ready and that it is his time to go. And that big smile on his face convinced me that its true. Long time officers like Pat know that this is a physical job and as a person gets older it becomes more difficult to go out everyday into events and challenges that can be a trial physically and mentally. Pat did it, faithfully, every work day for 25 years. The bad guys are not getting older –there is always a new and younger group but the cops do get older.
When I first met Pat he was a young guy not too far out of college on his first policing job. He has always been athletic and up for any challenge. He served as a patrol officer working the street, as an interim detective investigating cases –including a famous one that involved a son who turned in his father for murder in a fascinating case. He was a member of our Directed Patrol Unit who worked specialty traffic assignments; the Southeast Oakland County Crash Investigation Team, a shared service between ourselves, Troy Police and Bloomfield Township Police to investigate traffic crashes in an efficient and effective way; an evidence technician, bike patrol officer and many other things. He was the union president for a time and I remember that we had some debates. But he never held a grudge. The next day he was back with a smile on his face.
We have all watched him move into the stages of life: marriage, babies, young kids and now teenagers. But Pat’s main identity was as a cop. The shadow box he is holding (below) contains mementos of his career. He has all of the badges that he wore, the arm patches, his awards and challenge coin. It has an engraved plaque with the dates he served. We hope that when he looks at the box he recalls a career that he was proud of, with a department and community he was proud to serve.
Saying good bye is always a bitter-sweet moment. We are happy for him to have achieved this milestone–for cops it means that they made the finish line alive and healthy. He moves on to a new life that will be different — no more worrying about working nights, weekends or holidays. No more considering what the suspect might do in an arrest situation. He told me that as he stood in the cold today on a crash scene, he thought about how this might be the last time he has to do that and he was ok with it.
His wife told me that she thinks about what it will be like for him to find another identity–the non-cop identity. And we all laughed when he was teasing his kids that he planned to spend more time driving them to school and checking their homework (they made faces). Life will be different for the Beckers. But, knowing Pat, I’m sure he will make it a GOOD difference and a good life. All kidding aside, I know that he plans to be with his family more to make up for all those times he was working when he wanted to be with them.
Thanks for everything, Pat. Have a good life.
Policing is a great profession. I am proud to be a police officer and proud to serve my community. But we are not Supermen and Superwomen after all. We have a sad secret that we never like to discuss. Police suicide. Our rate of suicide is 2 to 4 times higher than the regular population. More are killed in suicides than in the line of duty. I have known other officers who committed suicide. Because we never look for it among ourselves, we never see it until it is too late. While we have access to employee assistance programs and other avenues of assistance, officers don’t want to seek help. It goes against the code–we help others, not ourselves. The problem is so pervasive that the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the COPS Office in Washington hosted a national symposium in July 2013 searching for solutions. IACP has a series of programs to address suicide specifically and officer wellness in general. If you are a friend or relative of an officer in distress, urge them to seek help. Don’t turn your back on an officer needing assistance. Maybe another Officer Quinn can be prevented.
Lower Merion Officer Sean Quinn and wife Eileen. “Whatever problems he was having,” she said after his suicide, “he hid it very well.”
By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: November 25, 2013
LOWER MERION Like many who lose a loved one to suicide, the family and friends of Officer Sean Quinn said they didn’t see it coming. Quinn, 46, was a veteran of the Lower Merion Police Department, a former DARE instructor who loved working with children. He was a private man with a strong jaw and youthful features. After a bumpy stretch, his life had smoothed out in recent years, and Quinn was doing what he loved – patrolling the streets.
“It was all he ever wanted to do,” said his wife, Eileen.
Trained in crisis intervention, the officer also knew how to recognize when someone was suicidal. That may have steeled him the morning of Feb. 11. Instead of heading to work, Quinn drove to a South Philadelphia park, put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. “Whatever problems he was having,” his wife said, “he hid it very well.” Quinn is among more than 100 law enforcement officers in the United States each year who commit suicide. Thousands more are estimated to struggle in silence, fearful that seeking treatment could endanger their badges. Some states, including New Jersey, have launched task forces and issued statewide recommendations to departments.
“Externally, cops are tough critters. Internally, they have feelings,” said Ron Clark, a retired Connecticut State Police sergeant who runs the nonprofit support group Badge of Life. “They take pictures with their minds, and they go to some of the most god-awful scenes you could think of.” Clark said many officers and former officers – including himself – suffered from post-traumatic stress and faced higher risks of divorce and alcoholism. Officers can be especially difficult to reach because of their “impenetrable core” of toughness, said Tony Salvatore of Montgomery County Emergency Services, an advocate for suicide-prevention resources who trains officers around the region. After years of officers’ witnessing trauma and taking care of others, Salvatore said, “a lot of the resilience, the strength they could be using for their personal lives, they’re using just to keep themselves together on the job.”
There are no nationwide comprehensive statistics for suicide in law enforcement. But various studies have found the rate of officer suicide is two to four times higher than in the population at large and that more officers take their own lives than are killed in the line of duty. Data over the last two decades show little change in the numbers or demographics. Like Quinn, a 25-year veteran, most were white men with several years on the force. With easy access to guns, officers are far more likely to succeed in their suicide attempts.
Last month, a police officer killed himself on a street in Carbon County, Pa., while a friend and fellow officer was trying to talk him out of it. In September, a Ewing, N.J., officer killed himself in the Police Department parking lot. Experts say one of the best prevention methods is peer counseling; formal training programs have popped up nationwide. But getting officers to overcome the stigma of mental illness and the fear of career repercussions remains a problem, Salvatore said. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona require peer counseling to remain confidential. New Jersey and Massachusetts are considering similar legislation.
In 2008, after Gov. Jon S. Corzine convened a task force, the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association set up a hotline and began coordinating treatment outside the law enforcement command structure. Spokesman Kenneth Burkert said the New Jersey PBA had sent roughly 50 officers a year to rehabilitation centers. “They come back to the job healthier and better equipped to do their job,” he said. “It’s working tremendously.”
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, “lags far behind other states in its suicide-prevention work,” Salvatore said. More often, the burden falls on individual departments. Bill Kelly, Abington Township’s police chief, said he had been focused on mental health for 20 years, having come from a department in Ohio that experienced both a suicide and a line-of-duty death. “I don’t know which was worse.” When an officer is felled by a killer, “the organization all pulls together, you feel the solidarity and support,” Kelly said. But with suicide, “everyone feels guilty or points fingers at other people.” When he started in Abington, Kelly recruited veteran officers to act as peer counselors and got the township to provide an uncapped confidential-assistance fund to cover the cost of seeing a psychologist – or several psychologists until the officer could find one that clicked. “By providing all these different options, and making it so there’s no cost to the officers,” Kelly said, “you’re dramatically increasing the likelihood that they’re going to take advantage of it.”
Lower Merion’s benefits are less targeted to law enforcement, but Salvatore said the department had been proactive in general suicide prevention. It was one of the first departments to train in crisis intervention, and it has counselors on call to speak with staffers after traumatic events. Before Quinn’s death, his wife said, “we didn’t really have a lot of problems. We were happy.” But through his tough exterior, there were signs he might have been struggling.
In 1996, his younger brother committed suicide. “Sean was the first person to get in and see that. That was something he never dealt with, because he went into the cop mode,” said Eileen Quinn, “where he felt like he had to protect everyone.” In 2008, he was treated for alcoholism. That resulted in a year on desk duty and fewer outings with friends. (Quinn was sober and back on patrol when he died, his wife said.) In 2010, he hit a bicyclist while responding to an emergency call. The crash was ruled an accident, but the cyclist is suing the department for damages. In 2012, the family was struggling to make ends meet, and Quinn was working a second job as a driving instructor. The night before he died, Eileen Quinn said, they had argued about money. Even after that, she said, she didn’t have a clue what her husband was intending. The next morning, when he texted, “I have to go,” Eileen thought he was in the briefing room at the station. “It was a shock to us all,” Police Superintendent Michael McGrath said. “His failure to be at roll call was the first indication of a problem.” Although the township’s health plan and employee assistance program cover counseling, Quinn said her husband would never have sought it.
“If you show that you are weak, if you show that you have problems, you can be taken off the street, you can lose your job,” she said. “But there are resources out there. And I know the department – they would never turn their back on him.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Of 126 law enforcement suicides surveyed in 2012:
- 92% of the officers were male.
- 41 was the average age.
- 15.4 was the average number of years on the force.
- 91.5% were killed by gunshots.
- 83% had reported personal problems.
SOURCE: “National Police Suicide Estimates: Web Surveillance Study III,” published in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 2013.
At a Glance
According to various studies on suicides committed by law enforcement officers:
- The rate of police officer suicide is two to four times higher than that of the civilian population.
- More officers take their own lives than are killed in the line of duty.
- Most at risk are white men with several years on the force.
- The best method
- of prevention is confidential peer counseling.
- Jessica Parks
Lt. McDonnell of our Investigations Division let us know of an interesting case involving a stolen iPhone:
On 11/22/2013 Officer Sparre took a larcey report where an I-phone 5 was stolen from a restaurant. The victim reported he used the location service on his I-pad and the Iphone was showing in Auburn Hills. Officer Sparre obtained the victim’s Apple ID and Password then utilized the Locate My Iphone application through an investigator. The phone was showing to be located at a specific location in a building in our city–another workplace.
Officer Sparre went to the location where the phone was showing and met with the Human Resources Department. The HR person knew that one of their workers also worked at the restaurant where the phone was stolen. The employee was pulled into the office and the phone was recovered from the employee. The employee was arrested for Larceny in a Building. It was also discovered that the employee was working under different names at each of the workplaces. The victim got his phone back.
The moral of the story is: THIS TYPE OF APP REALLY WORKS!!! If you don’t have one on your phone, maybe you should.
As more and more people consider what the best course of action is with respect to marijuana legalization, I think it is instructive to look at the experience of others who have gone before. Like Colorado.
First, the Council, at our request, repealed Article III of Chapter 10 of the City Code, “Mechanical Amusement Devices, Pool Tables and Entertainments.” This ordinance created a licensing process for businesses, open to the public, who wanted to have pool tables, claw machines, video games, things like that. The businesses were required to pay a fee and undergo inspections by our fire, police and building departments. Each machine or device required a fee. The ordinance was first enacted back in the 1980′s when the Council was concerned for young people hanging around arcades. Times and technology have changed. We have about 14 establishments in the city that fell under the ordinance. Council voted unanimously for the repeal.
Secondly, we asked them to replace that ordinance with a new one regulating smoking lounges. Here is a link: 2013 Smoking Lounges Ord.
On August 5, 2013 City Council voted to place a moratorium on the opening of new smoking lounge businesses in the City for 180 days while staff studied the issue. Ultimately we recommended that the City license the smoking lounges. We proposed an annual license with a fee to be determined, which would allow the City better management of these businesses.
Since the State of Michigan enacted Public Act 188 of 2009 to prohibit smoking in public places smoking lounges have become increasingly popular. Cigar Bars and Tobacco Specialty Retail Stores that qualify and were in existence on May 1, 2010, are exempt from the smoking in public prohibition. Currently there are 2 established lounges with 1 in development. THe state guesses that there are about 200 of these exemptions around the state, no new ones are being granted. Before the moratorium licenses could be transferred into the City at any time without limit from anywhere in the state.
Adverse impacts associated with these establishments have been identified such as large numbers of patrons during the evening and night-time, crowds overflowing into parking areas and impeding on nearby businesses, leaving behind trash, broken alcohol bottles and debris, incidents requiring police response, fights, alcohol possession on unlicensed premises, traffic, noise, and complaints from neighboring businesses and residents. The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate smoking lounges for the public health, safety, and welfare of the City. We are also aware that other neighboring communities have been experiencing the same issues and several have acted to pass ordinances setting limits on the lounges.
The ordinance is designed to establish reasonable and uniform regulations to prevent potential adverse impacts. It sets a mandatory closing time and does not allow any more transfer of licenses into the city. Currently there are 2 smoking lounges with one in development. The lounges currently operating have 180 days to apply for licensing but the closing time will apply to them immediately upon written notice from us.
Frequently I get asked about the statistics for reported crime in our community. Media outlets like to compare communities using the reported crime rate and the population the implication being that reported crime is an accurate measure of community safety. I don’t think it is that simple.
“The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of more than 17,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. Since 1930, the FBI has administered the UCR Program and continued to assess and monitor the nature and type of crime in the Nation. The Program’s primary objective is to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management; however, its data have over the years become one of the country’s leading social indicators. Criminologists, sociologists, legislators, municipal planners, the media, and other students of criminal justice use the data for varied research and planning purposes.”
Get the Statistics:
Go to http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1645_3501_4621—,00.html for Michigan data and a searchable data base for individual communities.
Official Annual Uniform Crime statistics for all reporting cities nationally will also be located at the Federal Bureau of Investigations UCR link at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm
Historical background of UCR ”Recognizing a need for national crime statistics, the IACP formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Records in the 1920s to develop a system of uniform crime statistics. After studying state criminal codes and making an evaluation of the recordkeeping practices in use, the Committee completed a plan for crime reporting that became the foundation of the UCR Program in 1929. The plan included standardized offense definitions for seven main offense classifications known as Part I crimes to gauge fluctuations in the overall volume and rate of crime. Developers also instituted the Hierarchy Rule as the main reporting procedure for what is now known as the Summary reporting system of UCR.
The seven Part I offense classifications included the violent crimes of Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. By congressional mandate, arson was added as the eighth Part I offense category in 1979. (Does not include all crimes in a jurisdiction only those defined above)
In January 1930, 400 cities representing 20 million inhabitants in 43 states began participating in the UCR Program. Congress enacted Title 28, Section 534, of the United States Code authorizing the Attorney General to gather crime information that same year. The Attorney General, in turn, designated the FBI to serve as the national clearinghouse for the crime data collected. Every year since, data based on uniform classifications and procedures for reporting offenses and arrests have been obtained from the Nation’s law enforcement agencies.
Cautions against Rankings:
Variables Affecting Crime
“Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities—news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation—use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, region, or other jurisdiction. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.”
Consider other Characteristics of a Jurisdiction
“To assess criminality and law enforcement’s response from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, one must consider many variables, some of which, while having significant impact on crime, are not readily measurable or applicable pervasively among all locales. Geographic and demographic factors specific to each jurisdiction must be considered and applied if one is going to make an accurate and complete assessment of crime in that jurisdiction. Several sources of information are available that may assist the responsible researcher in exploring the many variables that affect crime in a particular locale. The U.S. Census Bureau data, for example, can be used to better understand the makeup of a locale’s population. The transience of the population, its racial and ethnic makeup, its composition by age and gender, educational levels, and prevalent family structures are all key factors in assessing and comprehending the crime issue.
Local chambers of commerce, government agencies, planning offices, or similar entities provide information regarding the economic and cultural makeup of cities and counties. Understanding a jurisdiction’s industrial/economic base; its dependence upon neighboring jurisdictions; its transportation system; its economic dependence on nonresidents (such as tourists and convention attendees); its proximity to military installations, correctional facilities, etc., all contribute to accurately gauging and interpreting the crime known to and reported by law enforcement. The strength (personnel and other resources) and the aggressiveness of a jurisdiction’s law enforcement agency are also key factors in understanding the nature and extent of crime occurring in that area. Although information pertaining to the number of sworn and civilian employees can be found in this publication, it cannot be used alone as an assessment of the emphasis that a community places on enforcing the law. For example, one city may report more crime than a comparable one, not because there is more crime, but rather because its law enforcement agency through proactive efforts identifies more offenses. Attitudes of the citizens toward crime and their crime reporting practices, especially concerning minor offenses, also have an impact of the volume of crimes known to police.”
Make valid assessments of crime
“It is incumbent upon all data users to become as well educated as possible about how to understand and quantify the nature and extent of crime in the United States and in any of the more than 17,000 jurisdictions represented by law enforcement contributors to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the various unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.
Historically, the causes and origins of crime have been the subjects of investigation by many disciplines. Some factors that are known to affect the volume and type of crime occurring from place to place are:
- Population density and degree of urbanization. – Variations in composition of the population, particularly youth concentration. – Stability of the population with respect to residents’ mobility, commuting patterns, and transient factors. – Modes of transportation and highway system. – Economic conditions, including median income, poverty level, and job availability. – Cultural factors and educational, recreational, and religious characteristics. – Family conditions with respect to divorce and family cohesiveness. – Climate. – Effective strength of law enforcement agencies. – Administrative and investigative emphases of law enforcement. – Policies of other components of the criminal justice system (i.e., prosecutorial, judicial, correctional, and probational). – Citizens’ attitudes toward crime. – Crime reporting practices of the citizenry.
Crime in the United States provides a nationwide view of crime based on statistics contributed by local, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies. Population size is the only correlate of crime presented in this publication. Although many of the listed factors equally affect the crime of a particular area, the UCR Program makes no attempt to relate them to the data presented. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, counties, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis on their population coverage or student enrollment. Until data users examine all the variables that affect crime in a town, city, county, state, region, or college or university, they can make no meaningful comparisons.”
I took the above information from the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff’s Office website. It is the best explanation I’ve seen for how to interpret the Uniform Crime Report. A particularly important point is in the bolded paragraph near the top that names the offense classifications: THE UCR DOES NOT REPORT ALL CRIMES IN THE JURISDICTION, ONLY THE ONES NAMED. I realize that seems illogical but because of what is known as the “Hierarchy Rule” only the crime category which is the highest. For example, if a burglar breaks into a house, kills the homeowner and steals property the only crime reported is the murder. Seems crazy, I know but that is the way the system was set up in 1929. Should it be changed? I would argue yes.
The devil is always in the details.