Barricaded Subject Last Night

Last night, in one of our neighborhoods in the south end of the city we received a call of a subject barricaded in a home with a machete threatening suicide.  He also threatened any officer who tried to come into his room.  He is a young adult with a history of mental health issues who was drunk and suffering from a recent break up with a girlfriend.  We responded to the home and after an hour or so on the phone with him talked him into coming out and going to the hospital for treatment.  No one was injured – no crime was committed.  Sergeant Bryan Eftink and his afternoon shift did a great job of managing a challenging situation and getting a positive outcome.

Today, I was reporting on crime statistics for our city’s state required dashboard.  The dashboard is a requirement in the last few years as part of an open government movement.  While I agree that open and transparent government is a good thing.  I can’t agree that measuring public safety only by crime statistics handcuffsmakes sense.  Last night’s incident is a case in point -there won’t be any crime statistic on that case last night.  No crime was committed – he was a person requiring treatment.  And this type of case is on the rise although crime is not.  Our crime statistics are pretty stable and have been over a long period of time.  But we are seeing increases in mental health type calls.  Last year we responded to 122 calls of this type.  This year to date we have 103 calls.  I didn’t count the drug overdose cases that police have responded to: 5 and the suicides:  3.  They do include the attempts at suicide: 25.

No one is looking at or counting this kind of police activity yet it is a major factor in what we do.  On the scene last night, there was a sergeant and at least 6 officers and given the gravity of the situation we responded a lieutenant and more 2 more officers.  You never know how these situations are going to turn out.  Many of the controversial police situations that end up as officer involved shootings begin as exactly this kind of event.  Officers rush into the situation in an attempt to resolve it quickly and there is a violent confrontation.  So we slow the situation down and attempt to talk the person into coming out.  We train for just these kinds of situations and we rely on our high quality supervisors to achieve the best outcome with the least possible force use.

We think that is what you want us to do.

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.

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

National Night Out 2015 Was a BIG Success Thanks to Our Many Volunteers

National Night Out was a big success again this year judging by Logo15Slthe number of people who attended and the comments I heard.  We live Tweeted the event so I hope you tuned in.  It was also a success among our own personnel when I looked around and saw how many of our police personnel volunteered their time to work the event – before and after their work shifts and people in on their day off.

We couldn’t do this event without the support of other city departments – in particular Senior Services and Recreation, Karen Adcock and Brian Marzolf.  There are many others to thank too:   our department volunteers who set up and clean up;  our community organizations who come in to introduce themselves to folks attending like the Rochester Auburn Hills Community Coalition, the Auburn Hills Library and many, many others;  Oakland County Parks and Recreation for the fun stuff; Faurecia who sponsored the Kona Ice truck and the many, many bags of chips we hand out; our partners in public safety, the AH Fire Department and their smoke house(an interesting safety opportunity if you haven’t seen it); other neighboring police departments and Great Lakes Crossings Security were there.  Our Department of Public Works brought their heavy equipment demonstration and loaned us stuff we needed.  Fieldstone Golf Course for loaned us golf carts.  Our retirees have taken over the hot dog grilling operation as their own and were assisted by the local Masonic Lodge who stuffs those hot dogs in those buns so we can hand them out to all those hungry folks.

Thanks to our co-sponsor, our local Target store who brings people and prizes that we raffle away.  What a great group who demonstrate the spirit of the event –community partnership both locally and as representatives of Target Corporation, the national sponsor.

Our local business community steps up:  Home Depot has given us a barbecue grill to raffle for several years running; our hotels give one night stays and restaurants give gift cards.  Some of the mall stores gave us gift cards to raffle some pretty cool stuff.

And the Avondale High School drama group who presented an awesome skit that demonstrated how important it is to “See Something, Say Something” encouraging our community to work with us to prevent crime and violence.  They were great!!!

Thank you to our department leads on this event:  Officer Metter Smith, Officer Chris Mahon and Police Service Officer Nick Krystiniak.

So many people to thank I know I’m forgetting someone –if I did forget you–forgive me–and accept my heartfelt thanks.  We’ve been doing this event for 16 years and it never gets old.  Whatever we had leftover in food we donated the next day to Haven, the local shelter for women and children.  One of the officers who delivered, Chris Mahon, told me that there was a small boy outside the shelter when they arrived to deliver the food.  Chris said the boy’s excited reaction was a thrill for him too.
And unexpected things happen, Officer Farah Hilliker, a Moroccan-American, told me that she didn’t know that our community had Moroccan-Americans until she heard them speaking in their native language as they were watching the demonstrations and raffle.  She spoke to them in Moroccan and introduced herself.  They were surprised and pleased to learn that she is a member of the department.

Join us next year – it is always the first Tuesday evening in August.

Here are some pictures from the event:

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AHPD personnel show their creativity for National Night Out!

Next Tuesday, August 4th from 6 to 8:30 pm we will be Logo15Slcelebrating National Night Out here on the City Campus.  It is a going away party for crime and illegal drugs in our community–citizens and police together make our community safer. There will be demonstrations, raffles, food and family fun –all free.  We are lucky to have the support of many, many of our local businesses who sponsor us for this great event.

This is literally an event produced by our staff as a gift for this community.  We know we can’t do our job without you.  They work hard to plan the event–it involves nearly the whole staff. Officers Chris Mahon & Metter Smith along with PSO Nick Krystiniak are the leads along with our volunteer coordinator Paige Baranyai.  Our police and dispatch personnel volunteer (just to clear up any issues – they are not paid –they volunteer their personal time) at the event or during set up and clean up. Our many WONDERFUL community volunteers help you park, enjoy the demonstrations, get you something to drink and learn more about the AHPD.  Even our retirees come back to cook the hot dogs for you.   And our friends  at the Community Center from Senior Services and Recreation let us use their building and keep everything going smoothly.  Everyone provides some time and talent to the event.

This year we have something new:  a promotional video!  It was written and developed by PSO Quentessa Tuffs with technical help from Kyle Scislowicz from City Hall.  It has a great message and tells you what the event is all about — you will enjoy it.

Hope to see you next Tuesday!

Our Mission and Values Statements Tell Us What You Need to Know About Us

Since policing has become so controversial around the country, I missionoften wonder if we have lost our way as a profession.  We at the AHPD can’t change the world though – we can only do our best in our small corner of the world.  Our best means of keeping our focus and paying attention to the details that our community wants from us. We have a well developed mission statement which gives us focus, balance and direction.  The mission tells you what we are trying to do when we come to work.  The values tell you our beliefs which we hold in common and endeavor to put into practice. The values guide us in performing our work.

It is an excellent statement, in my opinion.  I didn’t write it — I didn’t even work here when it was developed. Back in about 1993 my predecessor, Chief John L. Dalton, wanted to bring about major change in the direction of the department.  He included his command staff and brought in a consultant who worked with them to craft their statement.  I was hired as deputy chief of police in January 1994 and was immediately taken with the statement of mission and values.  It was a strong statement and one that also expressed my personal beliefs about policing.  So I have done my best to keep it going.  I use it (or tried to use it) in hiring, training, promotion, disciplinary actions and I encourage others here to use it.  In the last week I reviewed the presentation of a young sergeant at a command school he was attending – and he quoted our value statement  as part of his presentation–in particular the part about service.  Much is being written and said in our profession about things like constitutional policing and human rights of late–and those terms were used in our mission statement more than 20 years ago.

Policing today is so very controversial.  And police officers sometimes wonder what is the right direction.  Through the mission and values we have announced our beliefs to the world about what kind of an organization we want to be and what we want to do everyday when we come to work.  It tells you what you need to know about us.

Mission Statement

The Auburn Hills Police Department’s Mission is to continually improve the safety and quality of life within our community through a broad base of traditional innovative services, while protecting constitutional and basic human rights.  All members of this Department will at all times stand accountable for their conduct.

Value Statement

Let it be recognized that the Auburn Hills Police Department is made up of individuals with various backgrounds and experience who have joined together with the shared belief that the values expressed herein shall be conspicuous…

Integrity

We value, and are dedicated to, honest, loyal, and truthful behavior.  We believe in the basic human right of all people to be treated equally, with dignity, courtesy and respect under all circumstances.

Employees

We value all who demonstrate self motivation, pride in work, performance, patience and a willingness to cooperate with others.

Service

We value service as the foundation of this Department.  Striving for excellence, using efficiency as our guide, emphasizing that the only service which we will not perform is poor service.

Work Environment

We value a positive work environment which is safe, conducive to creativity and innovation, with opportunities for individual and collective growth, development, recognition and reward.

Pretty cool stuff, don’t you agree?

Interesting Case from the Weekend

Sergeant Dave Miller sent me an email over the weekend describing an interesting case they handled.

On Saturday 7/25/15 Officer Jennifer Carlson and Officer Metter Smith (formerly Rice) were investigating a larceny by false pretenses  complaint at the Metro PCS store on Baldwin Rd. On Thursday several individuals came to the store and sold to the owner what appeared to be brand new iphones which were still in the box and sealed with what appeared to be the factory plastic seal.  The Metro PCS owner bought 4 phones.  He later opened two of the phones and found them to contain “clay” and not iphones.  The owner called the suspect(s) back and did not confront them and instead asked them to being him more phones.  He arranged a time of today at 1430.  The suspects(s) came to the store with more phone or lack there of today.  We waited for the transaction to take place but they got scared and left prior to the transaction.  We approached and they ran on foot.  A long story short we ended up arresting (4) people.  We found in their rental car a backpack full of phone(s) that were filled with nothing but Playdoh, about $500.00 and some clothes they changed into.

Something new everyday.  Suspects are awaiting arraignment in front of a judge today.

Police Civilian Employee Gloria Guy Receives 2015 Chief’s Award

Today we received a letter from Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper to all Oakland County chiefs of police reminding us that all sexual assault kits must be tested under a new law.  I’m happy to report that we have no untested kits–this was true before the new law.  We take this stuff seriously.  But it reminded me that I have been remiss in not telling you about our Awards ceremony back in May.  One of the aspects of the ceremony is a “Chief’s Award” that I give to a deserving member of our department whose work from the previous year was award worthy.  This year I picked Property and Evidence Clerk Gloria Guy whose work for MANY years has been excellent.  We don’t often recognize the work of our civilian staff but they do important jobs for us and make our place tick.  Below I’ve copied portions of my speed about Gloria:

Every year the person receiving this award is carefully selected for their work as it relates to the mission and values of our Department.

The Auburn Hills Police Department’s Mission is to continually improve the safety and quality of life within our community, through a broad base of traditional and innovative services while protecting constitutional and basic human rights.  All members of this department will at all times stand accountable for their conduct.

We enumerate several values one being:  EMPLOYEES:  We value all who demonstrate self-motivation, pride in work, performance, patience and a willingness to cooperate with others.

As you know, the Chief’s Award is mine alone and I determine its criteria but it is always related to our mission and values.  Over the years I have chosen a variety of department members for this award.  Each year I look at what has been achieved over the previous year or years.  I look at what adds value to our organization and the community.  This year I talked to Executive Command members and I thought carefully about whether I was overlooking important work that deserved recognition.  Department members who did not make the headlines but made big impacts on department and our mission.

Internally we talk a great deal about giving value to the taxpayers for our salaries and benefits.  We talk about the obligation we have to hold the guilty accountable; to protect the vulnerable, to secure property and to assure safe travel on our streets and highways.  That mission has a lot of moving parts and many members contribute to getting the job done.  The police officers are the most obvious among us in the eyes of the public as they go about service to the community.

However, there are folks in the background without whose contributions we could not achieve the mission in such an effective and efficient manner.  Our civilian staff sometimes is overlooked.

This year’s award recipient is a long time employee.  She contributes quietly every day in several ways and has done so for many years.  When I arrived here in 1994 she was working in the tiny, crowded Records Bureau right outside my office.  I could hear her meeting with the public at the window.  At that point I was the deputy chief and when I became chief about 2 years later one of my bigger concerns was how we could improve our property and evidence function.  We intake 1200-1500 pieces of property and evidence each year.  These items must be cataloged, maintained according to type of evidence:  blood evidence, sexual assault kits, guns, money, drugs a wide assortment of items to include the rock that broke the window on the property damage report.  All kinds of things including hazardous waste and biohazardous items move through a police property room.

Therefore, this person was transferred to Property and Evidence as a civilian clerk with a goal of improving the situation.  It is an extremely complex job.  The law sets rules by which property must be disposed.  Evidence must be maintained over long periods of time in a condition to retain its value to the case; other property must be returned to its rightful owner; all cases must be researched to determine the outcome of any items seized or given to us should be.  She had to become an investigator herself.  Most departments have sworn police officers as evidence custodians but why should we when we have such a competent civilian?  Therefore, with the assistance of several Technical Services lieutenants, she worked and worked to improve our system and legally and ethically manage and dispose of all that stuff.  And because I am such a stickler about the integrity of the property function, we called in an outside auditor about every 4 or 5 years to audit just this function.  Moreover, he was REALLY a stickler (it was what I liked about him).  Property audits are a rare thing in police property rooms – departments and cities sometimes choose to cut this cost.  As a result police property rooms can become highly problematic as places rife with incompetence and even corruption.  We are fortunate to have none of those problems over a very, very long period of time.

In addition to the audits the auditor taught classes in this region on the topic.  And he was so impressed by our clerk and the condition and processes of our property room that he would suggest that departments call us to tour and learn what we do and how we do it.  We always knew he was in town because of all the calls we got.

Although she has a full time job to manage the evidence room she also acts as a backup in our Records Bureau.  In the past year that was more of a challenge due to a transfer and a medical leave which left her alone to manage Records and the evidence room.  Through it all she remained her upbeat and friendly self under difficult circumstances.  I never heard her complain.

A third role for us although not as frequent these days is that because she is a bi lingual person—she speaks fluent Spanish, we called on her to help us when we had criminals, witnesses or victims who could not speak English.  For many years she served as a translator for officers on a variety of cases.  This had huge value to us and to the individuals we were working with.  It was not uncommon in those days for her to come in from off duty at all hours to perform this service.

By now the members of our department know that I am talking about Gloria Guy who was selected for this year’s Chief’s Award.

Chief Olko presenting the 2015 Chief's Award to Property & Evidence Clerk Gloria Guy

Here I am presenting the 2015 Chief’s Award to Property & Evidence Clerk Gloria Guy

Without the dedication and excellent work of our support staff, we could not be as effective or efficient as we are in serving this community.  You know, she had responded to the invitation to tonight’s dinner that she would not be attending but when Lt. McDonnell told her that we needed her help, she immediately changed her mind and agree to attend and help—that is Gloria.

The plaque to be awarded is entitled:  “Excellence Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it.”

Congratulations to Gloria Guy and to all of the award recipients.  Thank you to our Awards committee:  Lt. Jill McDonnell, PSO Stan Torres and Detective Jeramey Peters and to Elna who make this dinner possible.  Thank you to City Council for joining us tonight and for your continued support of our mission in this community.

Thank you Gloria.

Telling the WHOLE Story of Police Activity

All day long I have my police radio on in my office while I’m doing other administrative tasks or meeting with members of the staff or public.  I may not be consciously listening but it is a comfortable sound to me and I like to hear the calls as they are dispatched.  That way I keep up with what is going on outside in real time.  I can sometimes tell the severity of the call from subtle cues in the voices of the dispatchers.  And it is always interesting to hear how a call is being described to an officer being sent.

More and more I hear us being sent to deal with situations involving people with mental health issues.  Last year we responded to 122 calls that were related to mental health issues:  attempt suicides, suicidal thoughts and a variety of other aspects of people in mental health crisis of one type or another.  This year so far we have responded to 89 calls.

Yesterday officers were sent to assist a person who sounded to the dispatcher as a person who was having a mental health crisis.  He had given his car to a woman who hadn’t returned it for several days.  He knows who she is.  Upon arrival officers called for an EMS response after they found suspicious injuries that they thought could be self inflicted.  Don’t worry, we’ll follow up and try to get his car back.  Mental-Health-300x239Today we responded to a hotel to assist a caregiver for an adult with mental health issues that was out of control.  On each call, two officers tied up for an hour or more. I’m not suggesting that the call wasn’t important or the police shouldn’t be there — only that when police are measured by crime statistics–those statistics don’t take into account this type of non criminal call which by the way, came in during our busiest point of the day.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 1 in 5 adults in the US (18.9% of the population) experience mental illness in a given year.   And the average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  So when a person is experiencing symptoms–often the police are called to deal with a person in crisis.  Even more concerning is that only 41% of adults in the country with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year, according to the same group.

So if you consider measuring the effectiveness of police by traditional measures like rate of reported crime or crime clearance you miss a very large aspect of what police actually do. There isn’t a crime stat for responding to calls that involve mental health crises.  Nationally only about 1/3 of our time is spent on crime reports the other 2/3 is spent on all of the other social order maintenance type of thing like these kinds of call.

Just something to consider.

While We Are on the Subject of Really Good Work……

On July 4, 2015 at 1:49 a.m., dispatch received a call from a resident that he observed a white box truck on Dexter with markings indicating that it was owned by Oakland Christian School with subjects loading a motorcycle into it.  The caller thought it was suspicious and so did we. The truck was a mile or so from the school building and we had never known it to be out this late at night.

Officers checked the area looking for the truck but didn’t find it on Dexter.  Officer Mike Miller was on an arrest at N/B 75 & the M24 interchange and saw the box truck moving S/B 75 at the interchange.

Sergeant Jim Stoinski caught up to the vehicle along with Officer Emily Frederick.  They followed the vehicle on S/B I-75 past Rochester Road, where it was stopped and the driver was taken into custody with the assistance of Troy P.D.

The stolen motorcycles in the police garage.

Stolen motorcycles in the police garage.

A  window of the truck was shattered and the ignition punched out to make it possible to start the truck without a key.  In the back were 4 motorcycles and one moped.

We arrested the driver of the truck but we knew that there was another vehicle that was involved and was following the box truck.  Unfortunately we were unable to get this vehicle stopped.

Here is the most interesting part for me:

Because every spring we have thefts of motorcycles the midnight shift had determined that they were going to formulate a strategy to stop this problem.  So for several months Sergeant Stoinski and the officers on his midnight shift had assigned themselves the task of identifying motorcycles in all apartments complexes in the city.   Each officer was assigned to a specific group of apartment complexes.  So each day officers checked “their” motorcycles and notified the sergeant  so they could keep track and investigate further.   When the box truck was opened on I-75, Officer Frederick  immediately identified that these were motorcycles from Auburn Hills and was able to tell where 2 of them belonged.   This is particularly important because the officers on the scene in the middle of the night had to prove that the motorcycles had owners that weren’t the guy driving the truck.  This is the “probable cause” they needed to make the arrest.

And of course we couldn’t have done it without the initial tip from the resident about the truck on Dexter.  Much of our best activity comes from a tip from a resident.  If it looks suspicious give us a call –we want to check it out.

We were glad to make the case and get people back their motorcycles – undamaged and quickly.  And we hope that the co criminals in the car that we couldn’t catch will think twice before coming back to our town.