Today We Said Good-bye to Lt. Cas Miarka

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

Miarka
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.

 

HELP WANTED: Police Officers

Source: HELP WANTED: Police Officers

I’m sharing a link to a source of education/inspiration I use myself and I advocate to our staff.  I don’t know the author(s) but I do know the content speaks directly to police leadership.  I particularly liked this one since these are days when few people want a police career.  It reminds those of us who have lived this life why we chose this path.  I thought you might like it too.

Great Job by Royal Oak Police

Cops understand that you never know what is going to happen in any given situation.  It starts out as one thing and ends up as something totally different.

RO police officers did a great job in this situation.  A suspect goes from an arrestee to a mental health rescue in a matter of minutes/seconds.

Royal Oak Officers Save Man from Himself

AHPD officers are also trained and equipped with tourniquets to save their own lives or the lives of others.  Every now and then I hear from people who variously criticize us for our “Batman” belts or wonder what all the stuff is that they are carrying.  Now you know.

A big Image result for thumbs up emoji from AHPD to ROPD on a job well done.

Missing Girl ‘Tells’ Her Story on Sheriff’s Twitter Feed

The Palm Beach Florida Sheriff’s Office has taken an unusual step to generate more information on a decades old missing child case.   Missing persons cases are never really closed.  The investigators keep hoping that the right tip will come in allowing them to give the family some closure.

Go to the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to learn more and find out how you can help.

Missing Girl ‘Tells’ Her Story on Sheriff’s Twitter Feed http://nbcnews.to/2r9sQTi

Never forget.

Crisis Intervention Training

OCHN Logo

Dealing with persons affected by mental illness is one of the most common calls our officers respond to.   It is a daily occurrence, sometimes multiple times daily involving more than one individual.  That is the reason our department has signed on to the International Association of Chiefs of Police “One Mind” campaign.  The goal is to improve the interactions between the police and the mentally ill.  Too often those interactions have the potential to go terribly wrong and violence ensues.  To participate we have committed to training 20% of our staff in Crisis Intervention Training.  It is a 40 hour grant funded program that trains police to better recognize the signs of a person in a crisis and offers strategies to officers that have a higher likelihood of a peaceful outcome.  Officer  Paul Wagenmaker was one of the first Auburn Hills Officers to take the class.  The officers and command officers have found the training interesting and helpful.  Officer Wagonmaker shared what he learned:

“The class gave me a better perspective on mental illness and the way it affects people.  Many of the people we have contact with suffer from some type of mental illness.

Since the training my efforts are greater at trying to understand the person and how the mental illness affects them.  The class taught me to be more personable and empathetic towards people suffering from mental illness and most importantly that they did not choose to have the illness.   I learned techniques to make them feel more comfortable speaking to me, oppose to being afraid of the uniform.  The class also provided us with information on area resources such as Common Ground, Easter Seals, and Oakland County Community Mental Health.

I have used the information that I learned in numerous contacts with people that suffer from mental illness.  I believe that it is extremely important to learn and adapt policing & communication styles to people with mental illness.  The use of ineffective communication with people who have mental illness often escalates to violence.  There have been studies that use of force incidents decrease when using effective techniques on people with mental illness.

For example, I used some of the techniques on an individual who suffers from mental illness.  He was suicidal and highly intoxicated – he barricaded himself inside his residence.  He continued to threaten to kill himself and threatened Officers that he would shoot us.  For nearly 90 minutes, behind cover outside the residence, I used the techniques that I had learned in this training to communicate with him while he was inside at a window.

I felt that there was no reason to make entry into the residence and using force because he was alone inside and I felt that it would escalate the situation where someone may get hurt.  He would go back and forth speaking of violence to asking for help.  Detective Thomas arrived on scene to assist.  He and I were soon able to convince him to exit the residence so we can get him the help he was asking for.  Once he exited, he was transported to the hospital for a committal.   The situation was resolved and most importantly nobody got hurt.

Another example, is while I was training a new Officer recently, we assisted SIU and the Detective Bureau in executing a search warrant in our City.  When we all arrived on scene, a male was outside and immediately ran from us to the backyard.  It was unknown at the time if the person running was the suspect in a B&E case.  We gave chase and I had my Taser out when I soon recognized signs and behaviors of mental illness from the runner.  I choose not to use my Taser.  We were able to secure him and then learned that he was the suspect’s autistic brother.   The class that I took taught me to recognize the signs and behaviors of mental illness.

I use some of the techniques often as we deal with people suffering from mental illness daily.”

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.

 

 

You can help support missing kids & their families by “Rocking One Sock”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is kicking off their “Rock One Sock” campaign.  People all over the country are showing their support for missing children and their families all month leading up to National MIssing Children’s Day on May 25.

If you are a Twitter user follow their @missingkids #RockOneSock to see who is out there rocking the sock from around the country.

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In just a quick check of the site I found one from professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.  He’s rocking the sock!

 

 

 

 

 

Show your support by a Tweet of your one sock.  Let families of missing children know that they are not forgotten.

Here is a video from John Walsh and his son with more information:

You can help:  sign up for Amber Alerts and follow @missingkids on Twitter and Facebook.  Share the information about kids reported missing to help bring them home.

We are deeply concerned about human trafficking

As I have blogged about here in the past (March 14, 2013; June 2, 2016), we take human trafficking seriously.  We investigate and charge cases as we come upon them (none at Great Lakes Crossings Mall). And we do what we can to educate and inform the public to help us in the fight.   To do that I want to get serious about the most common sources of victimization so that the root causes can been seen and addressed.

In local cases we have investigated, and in our study of professional literature we have seen that human trafficking involves vulnerable people.  They may be vulnerable for a variety of reasons.  We have investigated cases where vulnerable individuals have been recruited outside of drug treatment centers by individuals who pretend to care about them and then reintroduce them to drugs to control them.  These victims have little or no support system, whether as a result of their drug addictions or they are runaway or homeless.  Knowing that, we have put extra emphasis on locating runaway kids when we receive reports.  There are resources and we try to help families find what works for them.

This is a serious crime everywhere and we have charged cases of trafficking.  Here is some information on the topic to learn more from the Polaris Project:

National Human Trafficking Hotline:  The Victims

CALL THE HOTLINE

1-888-373-78881-888-373-7888

TTY: 711

While human trafficking spans all demographics, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that lead to a higher susceptibility to victimization and human trafficking. While not inclusive of all vulnerabilities, the following highlights a few risk factors for victims of human trafficking.

Runaway and homeless youth are vulnerable to trafficking. A study in Chicago found that 56 percent of prostituted women were initially runaway youth and similar numbers have been identified for male populations. Runaway and homeless youth lack a strong supportive network and runaway to unfamiliar environments are particularly at risk of trafficking. Runaway youth are often approached by traffickers at transportation hubs, shelters or other public spaces. These traffickers pretend to be a boyfriend or significant other, using feigned affection and manipulation to elicit commercial sex or services from the victim.

Foreign nationals who are trafficked within the United States face unique challenges that may leave them more susceptible to trafficking and exploitation. In 2013, 32 percent of calls with high indicators of human trafficking to the NHTRC referenced foreign nationals. Recruiters located in home countries frequently require such large recruitment and travel fees that victims become highly indebted to the recruiters and traffickers. These fees are inflated far beyond cost in order to create economic instability and dependency on the new employer or trafficker. Traffickers leverage the non-portability of many work visas as well as the lack of familiarity with surroundings, laws and rights, language fluency, and cultural understanding in order to control and manipulate victims.

Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma in the past are more vulnerable to future exploitation, as the psychological effect of trauma is often long-lasting and challenging to overcome. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict or social discrimination may be targeted by traffickers, who recognize the vulnerabilities left by these prior abuses. Violence and abuse may be normalized or beliefs of shame or unworthiness lead to future susceptibility to human trafficking.

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking:

Common Work and Living Conditions:
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health:
  • Lacks medical care and/or is denied medical services by employer
  • Appears malnourished or shows signs of repeated exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control:
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

Great Lakes Crossings & Sex Trafficking

Once again we have confronted the recurring Facebook rumor about Great Lakes Crossings Mall being a hot bed of sex trafficking.  I’ve been reading through the comments to learn what people are saying on this topic.  Frankly, I’m insulted that some commenters have suggested that this kind of thing is happening regularly and that we “want to keep it hush-hush.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All the members of our department take sex trafficking seriously.  We investigate thoroughly any report anytime.  We know that we have no missing persons reports there – now or ever.

Because we are cops, we are a bunch of fact based people.  We believe strongly that facts and truth are important.  And the fact is that there are no indications of sex trafficking rings or kidnappings going on there.  We have a group of officers who work out of a substation right at the mall so they are in and around the mall all the time.  We respond to things there quickly and with the necessary emphasis.  None of this Facebook stuff is fact — and when we have to keep investigating rumors over and over it is a waste of valuable investigative time.

If there is a person out there who is uncomfortable at any time while at the mall, they should call 911 and report the situation as soon as possible.  You can also find help from any mall security person.  And for those people who say that they don’t feel comfortable dropping off their kids at the mall without adults, I say THANKS.  Unsupervised kids are a  continuing problem to us.

Here is where the real problem of sex crimes against kids exists:  on their phones and computers.  Are you checking their phones?  Apps like Snapchat and Kik are a growing problem.  We are seeing these cases nearly daily.

Lieutenant Ryan Gagnon was just in my office. He is recently transferred from Operations Division to Investigations.  He has never been a detective so has had limited interaction with sex crimes.  He was telling me how shocked he is to see the volume of these types of cases.  He is shocked that kids are communicating on line with persons representing themselves as other kids who ask them to photo or video themselves naked and then extorting them to perform more and more by threatening to post the photos and videos.  It is horrifying.  Want to prevent sex crimes on kids?  Know what they are doing online.

Here is a video from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children  that gives insight to the problem:

Want to do more to help?  Don’t spend your time with unverified rumors – educate yourself, donate, support the work of NCMEC and circulate their message on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.