Mental illness cases swamp criminal justice system

I’ve written about it many times before.  But something must be done.  We are not different from other parts of the country.  At an event this spring Sheriff Bouchard made the statement that about 1/3 of the population of the jail requires some form of mental health treatment.   Even I was shocked at that large number.

USA Today did an excellent story on this national problem.

Mental illness cases swamp criminal justice system.

Traffic Roundabouts

We are seeing more and more roundabouts in place of signalized intersections.  While we don’t yet have one  in Auburn Hills, we have some in the planning stages.   I know they are new here but are used in many other areas of the country and internationally with success.  It is just new to us.  Here is a great video from the Michigan Department of Transportation with some information on how to use roundabouts.


Are you a doubter?  Do you doubt that roundabouts carry traffic more efficiently than 4 way stops?  Here is another video just for you.

Yipee! Baldwin Road is Getting Fixed!

I agree that the Baldwin Road has gotten terrible over the winter.  At last it is on the schedule for some serious work.  road-work


The Road Commission for Oakland County has announced the start of repairs to Baldwin Road between Great Lakes Crossings mall and Brown Road.  The road will stay open with at least one lane each direction at all times.

Project 1 which starts in July replaces 50% of the concrete between Great Lakes Crossings mall to just south of I-75.  It will be completed by the end of September approximately.

The second half will begin in September and be completed in November.  It is from just south of I-75 to just north of Brown Road.

Here is the news release.

Saving the Taxpayer’s Dollars

wpid-20140708_122509.jpgwpid-20140708_102826.jpgOne thing we pride ourselves on here in Emergency Services is how careful we are with the taxpayer’s dollars.  We are conscious all the time how we are using the dollars given to us by the taxpayers to provide the best possible services to the community.

We are constantly looking for ways to save a few bucks while still providing our employees with the best equipment and training to do the best possible job.  When the Police and Fire Departments were combined at the administration level in 2012, one of our most important missions was to find cost savings and efficiency wherever possible. We take that seriously.  The Department of Emergency Services in our 2014 budget should be running at 50% of our budget allocation for the year but we are running at 41% for the first half of the year.

The City Finance Director, Gary Barnes, started an annual award among the departments to bring a little friendly competition to the departments in how budgets are managed.

This year, for the 2nd year in a row, Deputy Director Jim Manning of Emergency Services/Fire was the winner of one of the 2013 Budget Cups for departments over $1M with a 12.3% savings.  This is calculated as savings over the budget allocation for the department.  He also won in 2012 with a whopping 22.7% savings in the Fire Department.

We have other winners in the past:

For cost savings over budget allocation:  Lt. Cas Miarka for Police Patrol budget at 6% in 2011 and in 2010 for Police Technical Services at 27.6%

For budgeting accuracy, which is calculated as ending the budget year expending as closely as possible (but not going over) to the budget allocation:

Lt Hardesty in Police Communications hit the budget at 101% in 2011

Lt Miarka in Police Patrol hit it at 96% in 2012.

Our command personnel move around among the divisions of the department to learn each function and as part of that, they are responsible to operate the budget in their current area of responsibility.  We see ourselves as a team brought together to produce an outcome of value for the citizens.  No one division of our department operates alone–there are lots of interlinked and moving parts.  What makes this challenging is that budgets are forecast 6 months in advance and throughout the fiscal year we must deal with constantly changing conditions while still achieving the goals set for us by the City Council and the goals we set for ourselves.

Congratulations to all of the other city departments who were budget cup winners as well.

Shoe trick will prevent child deaths in hot cars

It is summer again and tragically children are left in hot cars, forgotten by caregivers until too late.  I know that life can get hurried and harried but here is an easy trick to help you to remember to check your car before you get out to make sure you haven’t forgotten someone important.

Shoe trick will prevent child deaths in hot cars.

Good Guys Win One

Last night I was still in my office when I heard the report of a robbery being dispatched-something that doesn’t happen with any frequency here.   Almost immediately Officer Joel Foreman reported that he had picked up the suspect vehicle leaving the scene of the robbery.  He attempted to stop the car but the driver ignored the lights and continued to drive, ultimately heading toward Great Lakes Crossings mall.  The robbery occurred at the BP gas station across from the Palace.  At one point, the suspect’s vehicle struck Sgt. Groehn’s vehicle trying to get away.  Despite the efforts of Sergeant Steve Groehn and his team of officers from our department, the Sheriff’s Office and Lake Angelus, the suspect managed to get the car parked in the mall parking lot and escaped on foot.   Officers found the car quickly and worked with mall security to pin down the area looking for the suspect.  Dispatch disseminated information through the mall merchants and ultimately we got a call from one of them with important information and then more calls from helpful  citizens helping us locate the suspect as he was trying to leave the area on foot after he had changed his appearance.

As the woman in this video says, a robbery here is pretty rare.  Great Lakes Crossings is a very safe place.  We appreciate the help and support we get from this community to solve crimes and this was a perfect example.

The suspect is currently in custody, will be charged today and go before a judge this afternoon.

First Day of His New Life

image001Yesterday was Detective Scott Edwards’ last day.  We had a small open house for him at the station so people would have a chance to say good bye.  His former partner, Deputy Director Thom Hardesty presented him with a shadow box 20140630_150051containing his badges, awards and other mementos of his career.  Many, many of our former employees came in to say hello and wish him well.

Scott has been a member of this department for 25 years.  Most of that was as a detective.  He was a detective when I got here 20 years ago.  He came to us after spending a few years at Bloomfield Township Police.

Scott is well known for his work ethic. He is a guy ready to work whenever he is needed.   Friday afternoon he was out trying to locate just one more bad guy for one more interview.  Just gotta close that last case.

Scott was well known and respected among the local community of investigators.  He was in demand from other departments for his high skill level.  On Thanksgiving a few years ago, I recall a case where a local department requested his help on a homicide case.  They asked us to come and interrogate one of the suspects who was in custody to see if we couldn’t make another case we had against this same person, unrelated to the homicide.  Scott ended up with enough admissions to make the homicide case.

He is the senior member of the MCAT our major case team that recently solved an attempt homicide case at a residence in Bloomfield Hills where the resident was shot through his front door.  Other departments want to assign their junior investigators to Scott to learn some of his techniques.  He is well known as an exceptional interviewer/interrogator.  Investigation is a a highly developed skill that takes years to develop.  It isn’t something you can learn by going to a training class–it is years of experience to learn the best strategies and technique, particularly in interview/interrogation.  Not everyone is cut out to be a detective.  It takes a dogged determination, strong curiosity and an almost scary intuition about people.  Since everyone watches TV and movie detectives, many people think that it is simple and easy to be an investigator.  Not so. In Scott’s case, although we have other very capable detectives, his particular skills will be missed.  The person who takes his spot will have a high bar to reach.

He made some brief comments to the group saying that he had decided that now was the right time for him to go.  He hoped he made the right choice but he expressed how much he had loved this work.  He wasn’t totally sure what was next although he planned to enjoy the rest of the summer.  Someone said he and his wife had purchased a motor home so it sounds like some traveling is on the agenda.  He’s been clearing out his workspace for the last few weeks and trying to disengage but I think it may be somewhat of a challenge to adjust.  He seems to be ready to give it a shot.

Judging by the people who came to wish him well, he will clearly be missed by members of our department and the community.

Thanks, Scott, for everything and good luck.

New Tool in the Fire Department

We are always looking for newer and better tools to do our jobs.

The fire department has put two Blitzfire portable monitors into service recently. The Blitzfire monitor only weighs 22 pounds so it is easily deployed by one firefighter. One of greatest advantages is the monitor’s ability to operate on its own. A fire fighter can simply set it down, point the nozzle in the desired direction, and walk away to handle another task. The monitor has an internal safety feature that will shut down the water if it moves abruptly in any direction. Once deployed, the monitor is capable of delivering 500 gallons of water per minute. The volume of water delivered is critical on large fires. Based on the square footage of a building, fire fighters can use a mathematical equation to determine how many gallons per minute are needed to extinguish a fire. The monitors are a nice addition to the fire fighter’s “toolbox.”

A fire fighter practices a “blitz attack” delivering a high volume of water.

blitzfire monitor





Nozzle and hose loaded for quick deployment.








Mental Health Matters

Last week we were part of an Oakland County event that was intended to draw attention to gun safety and mental health.   As part of the event we saw a newly produced video starring Diana Lewis.  Here it is:

Stop by the station if you’d like a gun lock, we are giving them away free.

Marijuana playing larger role in fatal crashes

Here is an interesting article about a study being conducted by national traffic safety authorities.  No one knows what impact marijuana, medical or otherwise, has on a person’s ability to drive and for how long.  With alcohol there are many medical studies that show when a person’s ability to drive becomes impaired.  Colorado is wrestling with how to handle marijuana impaired driving in their state law since it was decriminalized for recreational use in their state last year.  I thought you might find it interesting as Michigan determines whether it should be decriminalized.

Marijuana playing larger role in fatal crashes.


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