The Time Has Come to Say Good-bye

As you may know, I have announced my retirement after 22 years as the Auburn Hills Chief of Police.  It has been my honor to lead the men and women of the Auburn HIlls Police Department.  They are an amazing group of people who go into the community every day and do their best to create a safe and secure life for our residents and visitors.  This is a small town but one in which there are significant challenges for the police.  We are not immune to all of the societal issues around us:  drugs, guns, sexual crimes, fraud, domestic assault.  They are all there.  The challenge is what we do about them.

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Me with Masonic Lodge Members of Pontiac Lodge #21

We have long prided ourselves on being progressive and adopting new methods and the best practices of our profession to improve service to the community.  One of the outcomes we are most proud of is the city’s 2016 survey of its residential and business community in which we were rated 2nd among all city services in both categories.

Nonetheless, now the time has come for me to say goodbye.  I am retiring as of June 1st.  The city has identified a candidate to replace me:  Chief Jeff Baker of the Port Huron Police Department.  He has some final steps to complete before receiving a final offer to become the chief.  The process is extensive because, despite being the chief, he is still a police officer and the state requires certain things for all police officers.  Port Huron is an excellent department with much the same structure as AHPD and national accreditation under the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) so you can look for more good things in the future. The transition will be smooth with no change in the services you value from the AHPD.

You will have a couple of opportunities to meet him:  next Wednesday, April 11 at City hall from 6pm to 8 pm and at the City’s Open House for me on Tuesday, May 29 from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Public Safety Building.  Both are open to the public so I hope you will come by to say goodbye to me and hello to Chief Baker.

As for me – I look forward to a new adventure.  With my husband, we plan some travel and more time with our family and young granddaughter. We are planning new things to learn in areas of our life that have nothing to do with policing – for the first time since I committed to this profession as a college student back at Michigan State University in 1972.

Thank you to this great community and the members of the AHPD for such a wonderful opportunity to serve here.

 

Meet New School Resource Officer Metter Smith

We have been busy moving people around lately.   One of those moves has been to assign

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Officer Greg Super (left) and Officer Metter Smith deliver books to Will Rogers Elementary

Officer Metter Smith to the School Resource Officer job.  Officer Brian Miller isn’t going anywhere, we have just found that we need him to do a wider range of community outreach duties.

Officer Smith has been with our department a number of years.  She came to us after working for Flint PD until they were forced to downside and she was laid off.  Then she went to Detroit PD. She told me that she was living in the Flint area and she was driving to Detroit daily.  She said she realized that she should stop and apply for a job instead of just driving through Auburn Hills.  The rest is history.

You might already know her if you spend much time at Great Lakes Crossings Mall or around our general retail area.  She has worked in the retail district for much of her time here.  She likes to be active and enjoys being around lots of people.  She has been the point person for our National Night Out events and an organizer of some Christmas shopping events for kids.  Her latest project has been leading her shift partners to gather books for Will Rogers Elementary students to use in a reading challenge program.   I would say she was quite successful in her efforts since there were boxes and bags of kids’ books stacked all over the briefing room and watch command office.

When we make these transfers we allow officers to write a letter stating their interest in the available position and then we interview them to get their input before we make a decision.  School Resource Officer is the most important job of all of the internal transfers so we think carefully about who should have that job.  Officer Smith applied to be the school officer 3 previous times.

She is a great role model for kids and a caring person.  But she never forgets she is a cop and she can be counted on to do the right thing.    We have been watching the criticism of the police officers in Parkland, Florida too.  We know how important school security is.  I can tell you she is well-trained and an action oriented person.  She was one of the team who responded to Pontiac a few weeks ago when we received a call to assist the Sheriff’s Office with an assailant at a business.  She was there quickly and geared up in a rifle plate, ballistic helmet and with her rifle.  Several years ago she was the recipient of an award from the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council for actions she and her partner took to make an arrest in a very violent domestic assault.  She was the recipient of the Chief’s Award in 2014 and holds a Certificate of Merit and an Individual Commendation.  Educationwise, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Baker College.  Recently she competed in a detective promotional process and finished among the top 3 candidates.

You will find her to be friendly and fun to talk to with a really good sense of humor.  I think she will be a great fit.

 

Were You a Victim of Identity Theft?

We are having a rash of identity theft cases where a person’s identity was used to file a Image result for identity theftclaim for unemployment.  It is incredibly common – even police chiefs I know are reporting that it happened to them.  Soon we will be taking reports of cases where identities were stolen to file a tax return and take the refund.  Where did they get your information?  One of hundreds and hundreds of intrusions the  largest being the Experian hack last year.   I think there is much more that companies can do to secure our private information – but getting them to do it is problematic.

We have limited ability to affect these cases but we do suggest that you can find help at the Bureau of Consumer Protection.  They allow you to report, give you some ideas on how to remedy the problem and steps to take for the future.

You can find them here:  https://www.identitytheft.gov/

Proud to Have 2 New DRE Officers!

We are very pleased to announce that two of our officers are newly trained Drug Recognition Experts!  Officers Riedy and Sears completed 72 hours of classroom training and will now head to the 3rd phase of the program which is a field practical in Phoenix testing drugged people in the Maricopa County Jail.  All of the training, including the practical is funded by a grant from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (thanks, Director Mike Prince!).  Although Michigan was one of the very last states to adopt this 30 year old program (#48 out of 50), we are going strong now.  Detective Jeramey Peters was instrumental in convincing State Police officials to adopt this program.  (He is in the 2nd row, 2nd from right above)  His efforts were recognized by MADD in 2017 with a special award.

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Officer Riedy and Officer Sears

This is important because we are seeing increasing numbers of incidents of impaired driving and crashes due to impaired drivers – a 13.65% increase in 2017 over 2016.  Just when I thought I had seen it all – I am still surprised how often we are arresting impaired drivers during the daytime hours – something that wasn’t very common when I was an officer – and they are impaired by illegal or even prescribed drugs (pay attention to those warning labels.)  As a result, we have had to step up our game to detect drugged drivers which is what DRE allows us to do.

Becoming a DRE is difficult and challenging (as it should be) but Peters let us know that Riedy and Sears did very well in the academic aspect.  Knowing them, we look for them to do equally well in the practical testing.  Their work will make the roads of our community safer.

Here is the moral of the story:  Don’t drive impaired in Auburn Hills – we will find you.  

The Problem of Cyber Crimes Reporting

I just had a conversation with Sgt Rick Leonard this morning on this very issue.  He was telling me his concerns about the reports of unemployment insurance identity fraud cases that are rampant right now.  They will shortly be followed by the tax return fraud cases.  He is concerned because we have no way to investigate these cases.  The victims need the reports from their local police but that means we will have to carry crime statistics for reports we have no ability to affect.  Some communities just refuse to take the reports because it impacts their “reported crime” statistics by which the media measures effectiveness of police.  I know the victims need these reports so I want us to take them.  Even when it makes our community appear to have more crime.

In the case of the unemployment insurance we are hearing unofficially that there is one person at the state investigating these cases.  It is likely that the information about individuals used to file these fraudulent reports was released in one of the many, many database hacks that have happened over the past few years.

The crime reporting system nationally is unable to adequately address the questions raised by this kind of crime.  We don’t know how much of it there is (lots) or any other facts and patterns which could help lawmakers and investigators design effective disruption strategies and tactics.  We do know that much of it is international, yet a further complication.

This article give the point of view of local police chiefs on this important topic.

Frigid Temperatures Can Be Deadly to the Frail and Elderly – Guest Blogger Karen Adcock

Our colleague, Karen Adcock, of Senior Services asked me to share information with you about looking out for others during these severe cold temperatures: 

This morning the news reported the tragic deaths of 2 older adults found outside in this horrible cold.

Why they were outside we might never know, but it’s a huge wake-up call for all of us to check on our older family members, friends and neighbors. What can you do?

  • Make a phone call, visiting or just being observant could prevent another tragedy.
  • If you have elderly family members or neighbors offer to go out and get their mail, take the trash out or in or even stop at the grocery store and grab a few items for them so they do not have to go outside.
  • If you are cooking dinner, make a little bit extra and take it to them. A warm home cooked meal can make any frigid day feel warmer.
  • Shovel or plow out their driveway and sidewalk. This is really important in case an emergency occurs or they are receiving Meals on Wheels.
  • If your elderly family members are not close by, make sure you have a neighbor or friends contact information in case you can’t contact your family member.

If you are concerned about an elderly or frail senior please do not hesitate to call 911 to report your concern.

The City of Auburn Hills Senior Services Department is another good resource for non-emergency programs and services for older adults.

Let’s help protect those who have given so much to our community.

Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

 

Phishing Happens All the Time – Avoid Becoming A Victim

We are seeing increased cases of phishing lately.  Here is a note we received from a shift commander in the daily recap of activity:

Officer was dispatched to a company that received an email from a company in China about owing them money. Everything looked legitimate as they knew they owed the company money but the bank account information had been changed to an illegitimate account. The company transferred $ to the company account. By the time they realized the accounts were not right the money was gone.

By the time they realized that they had been phished the money was gone.  And we can’t get it back.

Here is more information on phishing and how to avoid become a victim.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing

Shop with Cops & Caring Community Heroes at Target 2017

Our Police Department has participated in an event called “Shop with a Cop” for many years where members of the department along with community volunteers take kids shopping to buy holiday presents for their families.  The kids are from families who are facing challenges selected from the caseload of Pontiac Youth Assistance.

Us cops – we get a lot of credit for this event.  We are the most visible in our pressed uniforms with our shiny badges.  The truth is, our part was easy.  Just volunteering a little of our time.  The real credit for the success of this type of event should go elsewhere.  Like RGIS, a business on Taylor Road in our city who without hesitation gave me a very large check to help fund this event.  Also, the Auburn Hills Target Team – Tanner, Julie, John, who made the planning so easy, organized snacks for the kids, and helped us wrap all the newly bought presents.  Target Corporation funded the remaining portion of the event and is always willing to give back to the community.  The members and volunteers of Pontiac Youth Assistance (Anna, Melvin, Brent, Eugene, Thomas, Veronica, Toni… too many to list!) who organized basically everything else – this would not have happened without them.

There are a lot of these types of events out there, some big, some small.  But ours, is a little different.  It only works because of the many community partnerships we have developed over the years.  It’s a smaller event, with usually only about 15-20 youths, but that makes it unique, personal, and impactful. We do it for the kid’s happiness.

This year, the event was a great success.  We had 15 youths, a great team of support volunteers from Pontiac Youth Assistance, several officers and even Chief Olko who hasn’t missed the event for years.  We also had a very supportive team from our Brown Road Target Store.  We were able to raise enough money that each youth had $200.00 to spend on their loved ones.

When you watch some of the things these kids choose to purchase, it really puts things in perspective.  Dish Soap.  I saw dish soap in one cart.  It made me realize how lucky I am, and how much work we still have to do.

Normally, we restrict the purchases to be for family members of the kids only.  This year, due to the generosity of our donors, we were able to surprise the kids and allow them to buy a nice gift for themselves.  It was very exciting for many of them to have the chance to pick out anything they wanted.  By watching them do it, I am guessing they don’t get that chance often.

I am excited that Chief Olko has passed-the-torch, so to say, of this event to me now.  She has developed it into something great over the years, and I intend to continue that legacy.

Brian Miller

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