The Home Depot Shooting and the Criminal Justice Process

We have received many phone calls and emails from people cjsysteminterested in the outcome of the case at Home Depot where a customer fired shots at 2 shoplifters.  We have seen the Facebook and Twitter comments on our pages and we have been following the national press coverage. It has been interesting to read the opinions of so many people on this incident. Many people are calling for us to charge the person who fired the shots and some seem impatient at the pace of the investigation.  And some don’t seem to be clear about the process so I’d like to clarify.

We continue to investigate this case in an effort to answer all the pertinent questions and make sure that we have all the facts –facts are important.  Officers on the scene opted to release the person pending completion of the investigation.  That is not necessarily a statement on what we ultimately intend to do.  It does say that we thought we had more work to do on the investigation.  If we take a person into custody we have only a very short time period to charge the person and take them before the court.  We cannot hold people indefinitely while we investigate.  Remember the US Constitution?

What we will do, when we believe the investigation to be complete, is take that investigation to the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.  They are the county’s attorneys who make determinations, based on the law, about whether or not a person is charged with a state level crime.  The decision is not ours alone-we work with the prosecutors.  If you watch “Law and Order” it gives you a good sense of how the pieces and parts of the system work together.

If they determine that a crime has been committed and believe that we have identified the person who committed the crime, they will issue a complaint and warrant which we will take to our local court and swear to the facts as we know them.  If a judge concurs, she will issue the warrant directing us to bring the defendant before the court for a trial.  That is the point at which an arrest can occur.  Sometimes we go out and arrest a person on a warrant, often people who are charged appear at the court on their own once they know there is a warrant. When they appear the first hearing is an arraignment where they are formally advised of the charges.  The court will then set a bond.  The bond is not based on perceived guilt or innocence but on whether the defendant is likely to appear at trial.  Of course, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.  This process is pretty consistent throughout all states.

I appreciate that many people want to share with us (and others) their point of view and their advocacy for a particular point of view.  I would like to remind everyone that our job is to gather all of the facts and with the prosecutors, to make a reasoned determination based on law.

Don’t worry–we will let you know our progress when we are ready.

Moroccan American Officer Helps with International Domestic Violence Case


Officer Furah Hilliker

I want to share with you an email I got today from Detective Ivette Brown about the investigative assistance she got from Officer Furah Hilliker:


I took a complaint over the phone/email messages from a woman in Saudi Arabia.  Her ex-husband lives in our city.

The husband created a fake Twitter account in her name and posted nude photos of her on the internet.  He also sent her threatening messages in Arabic.  As you can imagine, she was very upset that he posted the photos and she fears for her safety.

I contacted Officer Hilliker to assist me with translating the messages.  I sent the messages to her work email and she immediately contacted me with what she read in the messages (prior to the beginning of her shift).

He told her that he would kill her, kill her family, and take their daughter from her.  He also referenced posting the pictures on Twitter.  He then told her that he would join ISIS to kill her and her father.

We are continuing our investigation but I wanted you to be aware that Officer Hilliker was extremely helpful with this case.  Officer Hilliker not only translated the messages but also took the time to explain to us the cultural concerns in dealing with this type of situation in Saudi Arabia.


Having a multi cultural department helps us now that the world has gotten so much smaller.  I assure you that we will do our best to assure the safety of the ex-wife and put a stop to his domestic terrorism of her.

If you are someone you know is living with domestic violence, there is help to be found at Haven.  Click here.


Can You Give Up Your Lunchtime Burger?

Chief Doreen Olko:

Read more for an important opportunity to help others in our community. We need volunteers.

Originally posted on Developing Thoughts:

Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

This couple just needs a little help.  If not you, then who?

Here’s the story.  He’s a veteran who served his country proudly many years ago.  She raised their four children, volunteered at their children’s school, and at the local library.  They both raised their children to be successful adults with active careers and families of their own.  Their children support and help their parents as best as they can, but two live out-of-state and one lives over six hours away.  Their youngest, who lives in the next town over, keeps busy with her young children’s schedules so she can only visit a couple of times a week.

This dedicated husband gets up daily and makes breakfast for the two of them. She sits there across from the table from him, smiles shyly at him and wonders: Who is this good-looking man?  She has no idea this man is her husband of 55+ years.  He smiles back…

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Pink Police Uniforms?????

Ok – so the whole uniform isn’t going pink but for the next month we are going to deviate from our normally strict appearance rules for a very good reason.

We are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers — cancer has touched the lives of many of our families so this month our employees will be paying to wear special pink T-shirts under their uniforms instead of their usual black ones to raise money for cancer research and support cancer patients.

We are asking for your help too –we are selling pink bracelets for $5 at each of several city locations:  the Library, Community Center, City Hall and here at the Public Safety Building.  All proceeds go to Karmanos Cancer Research and the Pink Fund a local charity that provides financial assistance to women undergoing treatment.  We are working with our partners in the Auburn Hills Fire Department and the bracelets are imprinted with “Auburn Hills Police and Fire Departments.”

If you’d like to buy a bracelet stop by or show your support by donating to our effort —check out our donations page here.

Operations Lt Ryan Gagnon shows off his pink

Operations Lt Ryan Gagnon shows off his pink

Concerned About Coyotes?

Every now and then we hear from residents who have had contacts with coyotes and are concerned.  We do not believe we are having an increase in coyotes recently but they do live among us.  We also do not believe they present a threat to humans.  They do prey on chickens and small animals and will go through your garbage.

Here is a news story from a Grand Rapids TV channel on the subject from earlier this year.

And more information on the topic:


Drilling Down into Crime Statistics

Congratulations to Rochester Hills in their Munetrix ranking as the safest city among 15 cities in the metro area with populations over 50,000.   It is a very nice and safe community and the Sheriff does a great job.

But I think it is important to drill down into the data to understand why other cities, like Auburn Hills, might have different numbers and still be very safe.  And it is important to understand the nature of each community since it can be difficult to compare the crime rates because the nature of the communities is so different.

For example, the population of Auburn Hills is 21,011 which is why it wasn’t considered among the listing of 15.  Although we have a low residential population we have some high impact features to our community that influence police activity and therefore crime reports.  The Palace holds approximately 200 events per year that bring large number of people into  the city.  It can hold nearly 24,000 persons-doubling the population of the city on a sold out event.  (We sometimes joke that we have two sets of rush hours:  morning/evening, Palace ingress and egress.)  Include Great Lakes Crossings, Michigan’s largest outlet shopping mall with 185 stores, restaurants and entertainment places that brings in thousands of visitors every day of the week drawing from the entire Midwest and Canada.  Add in the large workplace population which we estimate at another 20,000-30,000 people each workday(I’m being conservative) and don’t forget 9 miles of I-75 that carries thousands of vehicles through the city every day (plus another couple of miles of a high capacity section of M-59).  The net result is that we have lots more people in and around the city on a daily basis, impacting police activity, than our population number shows.

Munetrix used reports from the Michigan Incident Crime Reporting Report.  It is a searchable data base by county, city and township.  It details 4 categories of crime:  crimes against persons, crimes against property, crimes against society and other types of crimes.  In the report the specific crime types included are detailed under each heading.

The categories of crimes against persons and crimes against property are what is traditionally reported.  In fact you see these in the dashboards of the cities on line.  In the Munetrix method all crime categories were lumped together.  Doing it this way has an interesting impact.  It gives equal weight to reported crimes and crimes that are largely impacted by police activity or what we call “Found on Patrol” activity.  The category “Crimes Against Society” includes crimes like violation of controlled substance laws (drug arrests) and drunk and drugged driving arrests among others.  Those are largely developed from police activity.  The AHPD arrested 248 drunk drivers last year — we consistently rank among the highest per officer arrest rates in the state because we give it a high priority – it makes our streets safer.  That number of arrests or “incidents” makes our crime statistics look worse however when they are all lumped together.  Same for drug arrests.  We made 228 drug cases last year again developed out of police activity.  We also made 254 arrests for “obstructing justice” which means that we place a high priority on arresting people on outstanding warrants – it is our job to bring persons charged with crimes before the court.  But those high numbers against our small population works against us when everything is equally weighted.

Using this method, we are a whopping 127.41 per 1000 population (2677 offenses vs 1818  for Rochester Hills)!  But I would argue that while it is a way to look at all of the crime, it doesn’t make sense to equally weight a combination of crime and police activity — i.e. if we don’t stop and arrest the drunk driver there isn’t a crime report.  So, if we arrest fewer drunk drivers, or people wanted on warrants we would have less reported crime.  As a professional police officer, I believe that if we didn’t prioritize these offenses, we would have more traffic crashes and more crime when offenders are not brought to account.

So let’s make a comparison of the 2 cities by breaking down the categories to see the impact:

Crimes Against Persons:  

Rochester Hills: 2.91 per 1000 pop. (207 offenses/69,995 pop x 1000)

Auburn Hills: 17.14 per 1000 pop. (360 offenses/21,011 pop x 1000)

Crimes against property:

Rochester Hills:   – 15.51 per 1000 pop. (1086/69,995 pop x 1000)

Auburn Hills:  53.71 per 1000 pop. (1128/21,011 pop x 1000)

Crimes Against Society (includes drunk driving and drug arrests)

Rochester Hills:  337  (337/69,995 x 1000) or 4.81 per 1000 pop

Auburn Hills:  805 (805/21,011 x 1000) or 38.31 per 1000 pop

Other Crime Types (like obstructing justice)

Rochester Hills:  188 (188/69,665 x 1000) or 2.68 per 1000 pop

Auburn Hills:  384 (384/21,011 x 1000) or 32.55 per 1000 pop

You see how this works.  I will leave it to your discretion to determine the safety of the respective communities based on the data.

9/11 First Responder Sgt Rick Leonard Blogs About OU 9/11 Commemoration Event

Guest Blogger Sgt. Rick Leonard

On August 21st I participated in an event at Oakland University that celebrated veterans and first responders.  The event was sponsored by the Student Veterans of Oakland University.   I was invited because Sgt. Jim Stoinski, Det. Mike Thomas and I, along with Mike O’Hala (ret.) and Deputy Chief Hardesty (ret.) had participated in our Department’s response to New York City after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.  Some of you may not be aware, but our Department participated in a team of officers from Oakland County that responded to a nationwide mutual aid request from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Sometimes events become faded with time.  As a reminder, 2753 people died in the attacks on the twin towers, included were 343 firefighters and paramedics who were first responders and 60 police officers of the NYPD and Port Authority.

This event was centered on a screening of the film: “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good”.  OU invited neighboring police and fire departments for a vehicle display and meet and greet prior to the screening.  There was a question and answer session after the movie with the movie’s director and producer, Jonathan Flora and myself.  Mr. Flora is an Emmy Award winning director that has done films for Disney and HBO.

At the event we were asked to comment on our thoughts and

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feelings after watching the movie.   How did it change my outlook on my role as a first responder when I returned?  They wanted to hear any interesting stories about my time at Ground Zero. I had never seen the movie they were screening prior to this event.  I had done some research and discovered the movie was about the philanthropic efforts of Gary Sinise the actor.  He is well known for his role in the movie Forrest Gump, but has been in many other films and currently stars in the CSI: New York television series.  The movie opens with the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th.  The footage is raw and real and hurts to watch.  I won’t go over the whole movie but, as I sat there, I was longing for a notepad to write down some quotes from Mr. Sinise and others throughout the film.  I’ll mention two:

Mr. Sinise is asked what made him start his work with the USO after 9-11.  His response was, ‘I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that I needed to do something to help.”

The second statement that struck home was from one of the many servicemen and women that are interviewed throughout the film.


‘It’s about a sense of service to something greater than oneself.’

That’s it, in a nutshell.  That’s why we wear our badges and work unpleasant shifts.  That is why we are here at work while our families’ are celebrating holidays.  And frankly, I think, we all (myself included) get wrapped around the axle about small things and forget why we are here in the first place.  Following the movie, the question and answer session was very interesting.  At the end many attendees came up to shake my hand and offer their support for our profession.

Today is the 14th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, if you have a chance see the movie I highly recommend it.  Those of us who were around will remember how we all felt that morning.  Those of us who were too young to remember might get a small feel of the bigger picture of the events of 9/11 and the global war on terror that followed.

Next Week is Child Passenger Safety Week -FREE Inspection by an AHPD Technician


Next week is Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 14-18th.  If you have a young child take a couple of minutes to consider whether your child is in the right seat for them.  If you aren’t sure stop by our FREE child seat inspection at Will Rogers Elementary School, 2600 Dexter Road, Auburn Hills on Thursday, September 17, 2015 from 9am to 1100.  No appointments are necessary.

child seat


Want to be part of a police foot chase and not get arrested?

We are not chasing criminals this time.  We are looking for runners to participate in the Cooper’s Mini 5K Fun Run and Walk on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 9am in beautiful Auburn Hills.

The run raises funds for the Prosecutors’ Foundation for Kids.  The Foundation supports children who are the victims of abuse and neglect and find themselves in the custody of the county.  They are often without basic necessities like clothing, toys and other things that kids need to thrive.

We will have an AHPD team and the Prosecutor’s Office will have racing teams as well.  The course is closed to vehicle traffic and winds through a scenic area of the city.

The weather will be beautiful –join us!

Here is a link to more information:  2nd Annual Cooper’s Mini