Pontiac Youth Assistance Annual Breakfast Today

Early this morning Lt. Ryan Gagnon and I had the pleasure of attending the Annual

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PYA Chair Melvin Lee with Mike Kazyak

Meeting of Pontiac Youth Assistance at Welcome Missionary Baptist Church.  We were treated to an excellent breakfast, interesting speakers and had the opportunity to see our former colleague, Officer Michael Kazyak (ret) receive a well deserved award for his long and dedicated service on the PYA board.

pya annual rpt 2015

Youth Assistance is an organization unique to Oakland County.  It is a creation of and division of the Oakland County Courts.  Its purpose is to divert young people away from criminal activity using family and individual counseling and providing healthy activities for kids.  Each school district in the county has its own division of Youth Assistance led by volunteers.  If you are looking for a place to volunteer your time and talents, Pontiac Youth Assistance and Avondale Youth Assistance are opportunities to serve kids.  Both do excellent work in helping our next generation.

Here are a couple of opportunities with Pontiac:

ready to work pya announcement

pya parent university

Both need volunteers and participants.

 

 

We Do Vacation Home Checks

This is a topic I hadn’t thought about for quite a while.  It is one of those systems that hums along without much input from me.  People call us to tell us they will be out of town and ask us to check on their home while they are gone.  We have done it fohouse-checkr as long as I can remember.  I know we are still doing it on a regular basis since I see the notifications to patrol from dispatch when one comes in.

If you are interested, call our dispatch non emergency number at 248-370-9444 and tell them you are interested in a vacation home check.  Dispatch will need some information from you like the dates you’ll be gone, whether lights are on timers, who may be coming and going from your home and how to contact you in the event we need to.

We will check it as often as we can. Officers each receive assigned homes and are responsible to check them during their shift.

It is really important to call us as soon as you get home.  No matter how late it is-we are open 24 hrs, 365 days per year.  I have had the unfortunate occasion to surprise a homeowner who had just returned home and it wasn’t pleasant for them or me.  Officers don’t know who the homeowner is on sight so they have to react as if the person was an unwanted intruder until it is proven otherwise.  And we want to avoid the complications of all that.

Good News! Arrests Have Been Made

A week or so ago I wrote about a multi-jurisdictional trend we had seen with stolen carsarrest being used to commit other crimes.  My purpose in blogging about it was to let you know that we were seeing a problem so that you could help us.  After all, we are in this together.  We would like to thank all of you for the tips we received and the quick reports of attempts on vehicles.

Last week and then over the weekend we got a big break which lead to a bigger break in the case resulting in arrests.  I can’t give you too many details because there is more being done.  Some of the group is in custody as a result of the work of a team effort among police in several communities.  But some of the thieves are still out. It is a surprisingly sophisticated criminal group.  Many of them have very long criminal histories.  They operate in the entire SE Michigan area–criminals don’t recognize city boundaries.

It is unusual for us to have this many stolen and attempts to steal vehicles.  Maybe such a small number isn’t a big deal other places but it is to us.  Our overall number involved was less than 10 counting the attempts.  Some of the vehicles involved were stolen just outside of our community in neighboring cities.

For vehicle owners I know that it is a big problem to have to your vehicle damaged in an attempt and really bad if your vehicle is actually stolen.  It is frustrating and expensive.  I know because it happened to me a few years ago.   We don’t want it to happen to you.

So I think we have a good handle on this thing at this point.  Time will tell.  Help us by staying on the lookout for suspicious things.  Don’t worry if we investigate and it doesn’t turn out to be what you thought.  No big deal.   We want a chance to check things out — you know what is out of place in your neighborhood.

I can’t say enough good stuff about the work of these multi-jurisdictional teams of investigators.  They confer frequently to share information and contribute personnel to achieve outcomes no community could achieve by themselves.  Everyone has a piece of the puzzle and when they put the pieces together we can make the case.  We each put in a person and together we make up a team.   They do excellent work.

We will say more at the appropriate time.

 

What to do if stopped by the police

Our friends at the Michigan State University Police publish a pamphlet called “What to do if stopped by the police.”  They developed it to inform their Auburn_Hills_Traffic_Detail_20130611163142_640_480community why they do what they do on traffic stops.

I thought it was a very good description of not just what MSU officers do but what all officers do on traffic stops.  Particularly in Michigan, we are all trained in very similar ways across the entire state so what they describe is what happens everywhere.

I thought you might find it interesting too since it seems that there are many misconceptions out there about traffic stops.

What_to_do_if_stopped_by_police

It is Tax Scam Season Again

During the 2014 tax season we were besieged by reports of tax return fraud. And worst of all there wasn’t anything a local police department could do about it.  We talked to the IRS but the problem was so large and widespread that little could be done.  Some departments decided not to take reports because it would negatively affect their crime statistics.  But we didn’t do that — we know that when identity theft occurs there can be other problems for the victim in proving their identity was stolen sometimes months or years down the road, like getting a drivers license or applying for credit.  We knew that simply taking a report–regardless of our crime statistics, would help people.  So we did.

We are hoping that this season isn’t as bad.  Here is a video from the television news program 60 Minutes that gives more information.

This year we are seeing fraudulent checks.  The checks look like US Treasury checks but there are some important differences.  If you are a small business person (or a large business person) you will want to take a close look at any Treasury check you cash.

Here is a link to more information to protect yourself against this scam.

Treasury Check Verification

https://tcva.fms.treas.gov/approot/tcva/TCVA_Welcome.html

 

 

 

Update -Heroin use on the rise

Here is an interesting interactive article with maps showing how drug overdoses have become epidemic across the country since 2003 – 125 people every day. It is simply shocking how widespread it is.  The largest increases are in rural areas of the country.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/07/us/drug-overdose-deaths-in-the-us.html?_r=0

We continue to see increases in the impact of heroin use here.  We had 4 cases of heroin overdose in 2015 and 2 resulted in death.  Our fire department has carried Narcan, the antidote, in an effort to provide immediate life saving for overdose victims, for a long time.  Police will shortly be equipped as a result of a grant being administered by Oakland County Community Health Department. Narcan works if someone with the patient calls us early enough but if the individual is alone or if no one recognizes what is happening, we can’t get there in time.

Some studies relate the rise in heroin use to the increase in prescription narcotic abuse.  People who become addicted to pills and then are suddenly unable to obtain pills from their doctor may turn to illegal pill sources or to cheap and available heroin which supposedly provides a similar “high.”

Here is more information.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/08/26/feds-michigan-drug-pipeline-heroin-resurgence/32412437/

http://bridgemi.com/2015/09/in-michigan-heroin-epidemic-deciding-whose-lives-are-worth-saving/

If you or someone in your family needs help look here:  heroin addiction help

No Longer Secret

Congratulations to HAVEN on their move to their new home. We value and appreciate the services HAVEN provides to our community in critical areas of domestic and sexual violence.

HAVEN Give Hope A Voice

HAVEN_Exterior2Our beautifully secure new home located in Pontiac just south of the Oakland County complex. 

As we change our calendars over to 2016, we are gifted an opportunity to have a fresh new beginning. For HAVEN, 2016 marks our 5th decade of supporting and empowering survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It’s also a new chapter in how we provide those services as we are finally in our new home—a home built out of the love and concern of our community.

When we began the planning of our new facility, over five years ago, one early decision was to no longer keep our location secret. Our belief, proven by best practices from around the country, was that we could address safety concerns via the building process, a benefit of building from the ground up. Many have questioned that decision, since for decades most domestic and sexual violence programs, including…

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The Holiday Shopping Season from a Police Perspective

Holiday shopping in and around Great Lakes Crossings mall was busy, busy, busy.  The opening time of the mall on Thanksgiving Day and the scattered approach to sales helped prevent any large rush of shoppers in the opening hours.  The parking lot at mall did not start getting busy until approximately 2130 hours on November 26th.  Some of the larger stores at the mall did not open until Friday, November 27th

In 2015, there were 225 calls for service during the holiday shopping season.  There was a 3.1% increase in calls for service in 2015 compared to 2014.

Overall, the majority of our calls for service (169 calls/75%) were not of a criminal nature and were service related.  The largest number of calls in any one category was for a “citizen assist” like a lock out or push bumper–we had 36 of those up from 29 the year before.  With respect to crime reports the largest category was Retail Fraud 3rd – minor shoplifting.  We had 13 cases up from 11 the year before.

Traffic crashes were down 41.6% from 2014 we think because the weather was so much better.

If you visited the mall area during this time you may have been caught up in the traffic gridlock that occurred periodically.  Both mall management and we are concerned about how to alleviate that problem.  They have brought in a traffic consultant and we met yesterday to review his report to make some determinations about what can be done to improve the situation during those peak periods both in the short and long term.

Overall it went well and people appeared to be enjoying all of the great amenities offered at Great Lakes Crossing during the season.

Officer Starrs Helps a Motorist on New Year’s Day

If you are our Twitter follower you might have seen a Tweet on New Year’s Day that was a photo of Officer Kevin Starrs filling the gas tank of a motorist who ran out of gas.  Not surprising –officers see it as their job to help travelers.Embedded image permalink

Here is the rest of the story as related to me in an email from Sgt. Brandon Hollenbeck:

On 1/1/16 I received a phone call from a citizen who wished to compliment an officer.  The caller was a passerby who observed Officer Starrs helping a motorist at Opdyke/M59.  The caller saw Officer Starrs putting gas in the motorist’s vehicle and thought it was “remarkable” to see an officer helping someone who was stranded.

Officer Starrs had found a vehicle disabled at Opdyke and M59 occupied by a woman and her children.  The woman told Officer Starrs she was from Detroit and she was out of gas and only had a dollar and some change on her.  Officer Starrs drove to Shell at Opdyke/M59 and purchased a 2.5 gallon gas can and gasoline for the woman.  Officer Starrs returned to the vehicle and got the stranded motorist and her children on their way safely.

Of late, you are hearing more and more of these stories in the news.  I’m always glad to see them because I think it tells more about the true nature of policing – helping people.  I also know that this sort of thing has been going on for as long as I have been an officer–it was just never talked about or known publicly.  Officers saw it part of the job.  They meet people in need everyday.  Officers still see helping people as their primary job.  If you don’t believe me, when you see an officer ask him or her and see what they say.

Thanks to Officer Kevin Starrs for his efforts to help a person who needed just a little bit extra that day.  I hope she pays it forward and helps someone else in the future.