Optimists Honor Crossing Guard Tamera Eddington as Police Employee of the Year

The Morning Optimist Club of Auburn Hills has been honoring police officers annually for

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many, many years.  This year they asked us to include other police employees for consideration.  Our School Resource Officer Brian Miller seized the opportunity and nominated our Adult Crossing Guard, Tamera Eddington.  The club selected Tamera and honored her today at their meeting with a plaque.  She will also be recognized at the City Council meeting Monday evening.

You may have seen Tamera at her post on Walton at Dexter with her stop sign.  She is there twice daily to help kids arrive safely at Will Rogers School .  She has been there for 14 years–an incredible record.  She can be counted on rain or shine, snow or sleet.

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You may have seen her walking or riding her bike to work.    After she completes her morning shift on the post she leaves to got to a second job at Art Van, some distance away,  then back to the post for the afternoon shift.  Once Officer Miller realized that she was without a car and without the funds to buy one, he moved into action and has been raising funds from city employees to buy her a car.  It is going pretty well – he is already above his goal.  He is planning to help her shop for the car as well since she is concerned about her skills at finding a good, reliable car.  Despite the challenge of getting to that very important post every day without a car, she never complains or misses work.

She told me on the way to the meeting this morning that she applied for the job because her son, who was an elementary student at the time, told her that the school needed a crossing guard.  He is all grown up now, complete with advanced college degrees and a just-started-job as an academic advisor at Oakland University.  Her equally academically accomplished daughter was there with her son-in-law and grandson  who drove from Novi early this morning to join her for this honor.  It was clear to us that although they want to do more to help their mom, as newly minted professionals they don’t yet have financial basics to get it done themselves.

Knowing Tamera, it is so very appropriate that she is honored by the Optimists – she is clearly one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met — always smiling, always upbeat.

Next time you drive by her post, wave and give her a thumbs up to thank her for her commitment to the children of this community.

 

Is Mackinac Island the 5th most violent city in Michigan????

M-Live just published an article that points out an interesting “statistical anomaly.”  And it is true not just on Mackinac Island but also other places – like Auburn Hills.

As the police chief here I will tell you that by and large Auburn Hills is a very safe community.  Surveys done by the city in the past year tell us that both the residential and commercial community members feel safe – and they should.  It is a very safe community.

However, if one calculates the crime rate using our residential population, it is not favorable.  And for the same reason as Mackinac Island:  our residential population is very low compared to the population of people who come here to work or visit.   City officials estimate that our population swells to nearly 100,000 people daily between work, school and recreation from a night time population of about 22,000.

The FBI discourages the use of crime rate calculations to rank cities but media sources continue to do it.  Many cities like to tout those statistical rankings when they are favorable.

Here is the article:

Statistical Anomaly Ranks Mackinac Island One of the Most Dangerous Cities 

Guest Blogger: Sgt Scott McGraw on his experience at MSU Police Staff and Command

I am proud of our personnel.  They are an exceptional group of police professionals  who are highly motivated to be the best and welcome opportunities to improve themselves to the benefit of our agency and the community.  We give constant consideration to how we can grow our people in such a way as to maintain the service level this community has come to expect.  Higher education is one way to do that.

Staff and Command is a real growth opportunity for our command officers.  They learn to see policing from a higher view and understand more about its impact on safe communities.  Sgt McGraw attended earlier this year and after I saw his final class presentation on video I asked him to write about his experience.  You can see his final presentation at the end of this blog.

Hello,

My name is Scott McGraw; I have been employed with the Auburn Hills City Policepic1 Department since 2003. I promoted to Sergeant in 2013. I have had the pleasure of growing professionally with the police department since I graduated the academy. I have experienced a great deal in the police department. I trained as a bicycle officer, evidence technician, honor guard member and field-training officer. I have worked on every shift, I worked in the retail district investigating retail crimes, and I worked in the Directed Patrol Unit, prior to my promotion. As a Sergeant, I currently supervise the Alpha platoon on day shift along with overseeing the patrol vehicle fleet. Last winter, I was accepted into the Michigan State University School of Staff and Command.  As the guest blogger, I would like to walk you through my experiences while attending the MSU Staff and Command school.

Through my fourteen years at the police department, I have watched my predecessors go through the Staff and Command school. The entire time saying to myself, “wow that looks like a ton of work.” On January 2, 2017, I found out that my observations were accurate. The class is 6 months long, it requires a week of distance learning and the next week was in class at the MSP Training Academy building in Lansing (2 weeks of class, 2 weeks back at work). The commitment to the class extends to your home life as well. Many times, I was in class all week in Lansing and then came back to work the weekend. In my opinion, the sacrifice was worth it.

The class is not set up in the traditional learning style of lectures and tests. It is set up as peer teaching and problem based learning style. I was placed on a team with a mixture of personalities and learning styles. The facilitators do this to help with your leadership abilities and social skills. Fortunately, I was placed with a team that clicked after our first team-building project. Not really knowing what to expect, I went into the first week expecting to have a great deal of knowledge bestowed upon me. To my surprise, the first week was set up to helped improve our public speaking skills and learn how to complete the PBL (Problem Based Learning) process. A simple explanation of the PBL process is, identifying a specific problem with a statement, brainstorming some possible solutions, listing knowns/unknowns about the problem, doing research to make the unknowns, knowns and then selecting the best possible solution to the problem.

To be completely honest, as a newer Sergeant, it was intimidating to be in the class with Captains, Lieutenants, not forgetting to mention, one of the facilitators is a Lieutenant Colonel with the Michigan State Police. As that first week went by, I realized that we were all on the same level playing field and our rank went out the door. What I was good at, others were not and what others were good at, I was not. We learned from each other and became comfortable with each other.

During the first week project, I learned more about this city and department than my previous 14 years of employment. I also figured out how to create a blog, something I had never done. As the class progressed, I started to see a pattern to the projects, each week builds from the previous week. A lesson I learned quickly, was that police work and crime statistics are not easy to create consistently in any police department. I was very fortunate to have the knowledge on how to use the CLEMIS system and Omega Dashboard (for more information on CLEMIS https://www.oakgov.com/clemis).  This was something many of my other classmates did not have.

The facilitators give little guidance and direction throughout the class. The reason being, is they want to see your ability to follow written directions and lead your team down the right path. If the team gets off the path, do not expect the facilitator to push you back, you will need to self-correct. A couple teams had to recreate projects because they did not follow the directions given.

Each week my facilitator evaluated each member of the team with a rubric evaluation that specifies what the expectations are for the corresponding achievable score.  According to my personality profile test that I took in the first week of class, I like having clear expectations and the rubric evaluations have clearly defined expectations.

The hardest week during the course was week 5. The project for week 5 was the grant application. I had to look for a grant that would address a problem in my agency’s community. The class was given a list of grant solicitations to choose from. I was able to find one that fit what Chief Olko already had been planning. As I said before, each project builds from the previous. In the previous weeks, I found that my agency had committed to the ‘One Mind Campaign’ organized by the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police, http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign). Our agency is the only one in the state of Michigan to take the pledge and was one of the first of the 174 agencies. If you do not know, the ‘One Mind Campaign’ has four strategies or objectives the agency has to meet to complete the pledge. First, an agency has to collaborate with a mental health partner. Second, create a policy on Responding to Persons Affected by Mental Illness or in Crisis (a policy AHPD has had since 2015). Third, train 100% of our first responders with Mental Health First Aid training. Fourth, train 20% of our first responders in Crisis Intervention Team training. With that said, the easy part was over, now I had to put together a simulated application to receive funds from the grant. My final project ended up being 11 documents and my application paper was 10 pages. I gained a large amount of respect for those who apply for grants and I now have the knowledge of how to do it in the future.

The culmination of the class is to create a strategic plan for your department by selecting two organizational goals. The final paper had to be 20 pages maximum and had other requirements that made it difficult to keep to only 20 pages. The goals that I created were, “Improve the City of Auburn Hills Police Officer response to persons affected by mental illness” and “Continue to develop community partnerships while improving communication and becoming more involved with the citizens of Auburn Hills, in an effort to reduce crime and enhance quality of life.”

The last assignment for the class was a 10-minute maximum power point presentation for my 20-page paper. How do you fit 20 pages of planning into 10 minutes? You cannot. I do not claim to be the best public speaker… the proof is on the video… but I made it work.

In closing, I cannot stress how valuable the class was for me. I learned how; to use reflective learning, use the PBL process, read a budget worksheet, apply for grant funding, create a blog, build a policy, create a strategic plan and the list goes on. It certainly broadened my perspective on management and leadership and I created lasting friendships and networking channels with classmates. Thank you for your time, I hope that you enjoy my video and learn something about our department and the MSU Staff and Command class.

Today is Detective Damiani’s Last Day

Craig Damiani retired today after almost 28 years of service to the community.  He was hired here by my predecessor, Chief Jack Dalton, in 1990 as a police officer.  He was fresh out of MSU with a brand new degree in Criminal Justice.  I arrived in 1994 and became the chief in 1996.  I recommended Craig for promotion to detective in 1998 after an extensive promotional selection process.  And we never looked back.

Craig was our go-to guy on regulatory matters and fraud investigations primarily.  But he worked all kinds and types of cases and stepped into what every we needed from him whenever we needed it.  We will miss his expertise.  He is part of our team of 5 excellent detectives.  I have great confidence in them and you should too.  They have produced excellent outcomes in a variety of cases.  Despite the fact that they will miss Craig they plan to press on.  We will add someone new to their group in next few months.  Time rolls on.

In the photos he is holding a shadow box we made him with the patches and badges he wore as a police officer.

Now he plans to dedicate himself to his family.  Today, he thanked his wife Ellen for her love and support over all those years.  He said she accepted that he was called in at all times of day and night often at inconvenient times for their family and made it work.  She mentioned that he would now be in charge of getting the kids off to school in the morning and he actually looked pretty happy about that.  He starts a new job on Monday working in the private sector.  No more on call day and nights.

Good luck in your next life, Craig.  Thanks for the past 28 years of dedicated service.

Citizen Police Academy Starting Soon

Image result for citizen police academyAfter a long absence, we are happy to advise that we are bringing back our Citizen Police Academy.  It starts September 21st and runs for 9 weeks.   The goal of the academy is to show the students how policing in general and our department in specific operates in our community.  These academies are very popular throughout the country.  It is because policing is a complicated job.  We are a key part of community safety and we think you should know what we are about, why we do what we do and why.  This is your opportunity.

We had an academy for several years but due to staffing shortages due to retirements we had to cut back some programs.  Unfortunately this was one.

I can tell you the staff is quite excited.  They are very aware that their actions are frequently judged by what you have seen on television – which is not reality.  The staff wants to show you what they do everyday.  A broad cross section of our folks will be teaching and I think you will be fascinated by what they do.

If you weren’t able to get your application in on time, we will be bringing it back annually so don’t worry – you will get another chance.

 

 

UPDATE – Meet the officers who saved a 72 year old man from a fire in his home

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I AM PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE DETROIT HUNDRED CLUB HAS SELECTED OFFICERS KEEBAUGH AND TAYLOR FOR THEIR MEDAL OF VALOR AWARD TO BE PRESENTED AT THEIR MEETING IN SEPTEMBER.  

I appreciate the work of the Hundred Club in recognizing these worthy officers and everything they do for public safety officers and their families.  

I want to introduce you to the three Auburn Hills Police officers who acted quickly in the early hours of Sunday morning, July 9 to save the life of a 72 year old man from a fire in his home.  

Last night I met with Officers Alex Keebaugh, Chad Taylor and Mike Lane to hear from them what happened at the scene of that residential fire.

Officer Keebaugh said he was in downtown Auburn Hills on Auburn Road running radar.

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Officer Alex Keebaugh

Officer Chad Taylor was part of a team dealing with an unruly party and Officer Lane was elsewhere on patrol in the city.  Dispatch sent Keebaugh and Taylor on a “welfare check” saying they thought they could hear an older man moaning and asking for help on an open line.

Officers were on the scene quickly – one minute and 57 seconds for the first one.  They told me that as they pulled up they could smell smoke but didn’t think much of it since it is a time of year when people have outside bonfires. The house is rather overgrown and hard to see in the dark.  As they walked up from different sides they saw that there was smoke pouring out from under the eaves and called for the Fire Department to be dispatched.

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Officer Chad Taylor

They met on the front porch of the house.  Taylor couldn’t remember if they actually spoke to each other or if they just knew what they had to do.  Keebaugh said he remembered saying that they had to go in. Without hesitation Taylor agreed.

When Keebaugh kicked in the door they could see that the smoke was very thick and dense.  If he held out his arm he couldn’t see his hand at the end of it.  So he got down on his hands and knees and could see that there was less than one foot of somewhat clear air near the floor.  He tried to use his flashlight and learned that it couldn’t penetrate the smoke but it was all he had. He called out to the man and could hear moaning in response.  He called for the man to come toward him but couldn’t hear or detect movement.  He said the voice sounded very weak.  So Alex started crawling forward with Chad holding onto his feet.  The smoke was so dense that they realized that they didn’t know where they were in the house.  They guessed they were in a hallway.  Alex kept calling and the responses made it seem that the man was very close but he couldn’t tell exactly where he was.  All of a sudden Alex saw a hand appear in front of his face.  He realized the man was lying on something like a sofa and he started pulling on the man’s arm attempting to pull him backward out of the house.  It was very slow going because Alex couldn’t get much traction since he was on his stomach.  At one point he thought that the man got stuck on something and he couldn’t pull him any farther.  He knew he was “running out of gas” due to his exertions in the smoke filled house.

Chad said he was holding onto Alex’s feet as Alex crawled forward.  As they

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Officer Mike Lane

lay stretched out on the floor Chad realized that they had moved far enough forward that they were through the doorway and he heard the door close behind them. The smoke was so thick they couldn’t see anything, including the location of the door behind them.  Chad stopped pulling Alex and the victim while he relocated the door.  They estimate that when Alex was about 3-4′ from the doorway Alex could go no further and had to drop the victim to get out himself.  Chad stood up to pull the victim further with the better leverage he had while on his feet.  When Officer Mike Lane arrived he helped pull both Chad and the victim out.  They had the victim out within 2 minutes and 39 seconds from the time the first officer arrived on scene. Shortly after they pulled him out the fire “flashed over,” a way of saying that it burst into flames.  After a trip to the hospital for smoke inhalation, the next day they were all back at work.

As they talked to me about the incident they told it as if they were writing police reports – without observable emotion in a just-the-facts kind of way.  They commented that they knew they were in big trouble when Chad lost contact with the door and it closed.  They could easily have become disoriented and panicked under these conditions. Instead Chad quickly determined a method of how to find the door.  Alex said he just kept envisioning the door as very large and he focused on inching his way to it.  It was chilling to listen to them.  I know the level of danger they were in.  I thought about their families – wives, children, parents, fiance – all of whom I have met.

The victim was transported to the hospital.  He was released earlier this week and is staying with a nephew in Flint.  We have not spoken to him. A few days after we last spoke with the nephew, the victim died.  We do not know if it was the effects of the fire or his poor health.  We will never know.

One of the news channels wanted to interview the officers for a story on the fire on Sunday evening.  They declined because they are humble and self effacing guys.  They are examples of the high quality of officers we have on the Auburn Hills Police Department. I could not be more proud of them.

None of the officers knew the victim and yet they risked all simply because they knew he was in there and needed their help.  With a slight shrug of his shoulders, Taylor spoke for all three when he said that it was part of their job – what they signed on to do.  And knowing them, I was not even slightly surprised at their point of view.  They did it because it needed to be done.

Police across the country perform heroic acts everyday.  It may or may not be covered in a news story.  A fellow police chief gave a speech in which he talked about an incident of heroism by his officers.  I could echo his words about Officers Keebaugh, Taylor and Lane:

“What our officers did yesterday was not their most heroic act.  The day they embraced this profession, when they committed to a cause and willingly accepted a life of risk and uncertainty to serve that cause, was their most heroic act.  Every day after that was simply in the line of duty.”

That is how they see it – they committed to the noblest of causes which required them to endure the highest order of risk on behalf of strangers- and they accept that.

 

 

 

AHPD takes action in support of the IACP One Mind Campaign

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Auburn Hills Police Department is pleased to announce that we have pledged to take action in support of the One Mind Campaign, with the intent to unite local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations in such a way that the three become “of one mind.”
The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness. To join the campaign, the department has committed to implementing four promising practices over a 12–36 month timeframe. These four strategies include

  1. establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community mental health organization(s),
  2. developing and implementing a model policy addressing police response to persons affected by mental illness,
  3. training and certifying 100 percent of the agency’s sworn officers in Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety, and
  4. providing Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of the agency’s sworn officers.

Responding to calls where one or more persons is affected by mental illness is an everyday occurrence.  We want to provide our officers with the highest quality training, and strategies possible to assist them in finding the best possible outcomes for the affected individual.

We acknowledge the need to recognize and address recent societal, cultural, and technological changes that impact law enforcement responses to persons with mental illness. The strategies that the department has pledged to adopt create a unique opportunity to form a partnership with mental health organizations in the community. The committed efforts of both law enforcement agencies and the mental health community to reduce officer and civilian fatalities and injuries resulting
from encounters between law enforcement officials and persons with mental illness are of critical importance. Pledging to support the One Mind Campaign is the first step towards creating a safer community for all.

To date we are well underway in achieving the four strategies.  We appreciate the support of Oakland County Community Mental Health who has committed to assisting us in bringing Mental Health First Aid training for police to Oakland County.  Many departments are held back by the training commitment of 40 hours for Crisis Intervention Team training.  Their training funding just doesn’t make it possible to send people to training and at the same time staff their patrols.  Mental Health First Aid is a less of a time commitment and agencies will be able to train-the-trainer for their own departments.

For more information on the One Mind Campaign visit http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign. A copy of the full report, Improving Police Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness, links to additional resources and a list of all agencies that have taken the pledge is also available on the website.

Today We Said Good-bye to Lt. Cas Miarka

Today was Lt. Miarka’s last day as an Auburn Hills Police Officer

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Cas circa 2000

after nearly 26 years of service.  We had an open house here at the station so city employees, retirees, and community members could come in and wish him well. IMG_3984

He has been a steady force for good in this community and for this department.  We will miss his hard work and devotion to the department and community.  We all will miss his positive nature and jokes.

When I arrived here in 1994 as the deputy police chief, Cas had already been here 3 years as a police officer.  I didn’t really know him but over the years I came to know and respect him.  He was always one who would step forward when we needed a volunteer.  He was many times first: in the first group of bicycle officers; retail district officer when the mall was new;investigator in the new Detroit Metro Identity Fraud Task Force and others. He was willing to push himself into new roles and try new things.  Even when it was a little uncomfortable he would work at the job until he mastered it.  It was something I admired about him — he persevered even at points when the going was tough – I could always count on Cas – we all could.

During his time here he was an officer, sergeant, lieutenant.  As a lieutenant he served in every role we have for lieutenants.  He was the commander of technical services, investigations, and operations.  He was the department PIO (press information officer), he supervised dispatch, investigators, patrol officers. property and evidence and he even conducted  professional standards investigations when necessary to maintain the integrity of our department.  He was the brains behind the development of the CLEMIS CLEAR report writing program and digitized activity log used by police officers in all of Oakland County and SE Michigan.  He was a leader in Oak-Tac, the countywide active shooter training program.   He was a developer of the Rescue Task Force, training of police and fire personnel to rescue people trapped in the “hot zone” of an active shooter situation.  I could go on and on.  He was a leader in our department and among police in our county.

He was quieter than usual today.  I know that he was thinking about leaving his life as a police officer, something I know he loved.  He is moving on to become the administrator of the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office so he won’t be totally out of our world.  He will do a great job for them just as he did for us.

His family was with him today.   Over the years, I know he was often with us, working, IMG_3998

when I know he wanted to be with them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for everything you brought us and taught us, Cas.   It was an honor to work with you.  Good bye and good luck.