Crazy Shopping Fun!

We are expecting you Thanksgiving evening and on Black Friday. This town becomes a crazy, happy, holiday spirited place.  And we want it to be a SAFE place too. We work 13-must-have-free-shopping-apps-for-black-fridaytogether with the stores in our retail district including Great Lakes Crossings and the Auburn Mile to plan for a safe, fun event.  Great Lakes will open in the evening and everything will be open on Friday.

We will be on hand overnight, in the mall, and in the parking areas to say hello and keep things running smoothly.  Subscribe to us on Twitter @ahpolice or on NIXLE for traffic and safety tips throughout the night and day.

Just as a reminder though —don’t report events on Facebook or Twitter.  We don’t actively monitor our social media all the time.  Call us on 911 if you need to report something or tell us something.  Like everywhere these days we urge you to report things you see that you think are suspicious and give us a chance to check it out.

We think we have resolved that old Facebook story about women and girls being kidnapped from the mall–it is NOT true.  Just an urban (or suburban) legend with no basis in fact.  There also aren’t any known terrorism threats to the mall or anywhere else in our community.

Maybe I’ll even see you there–I’ll be shopping too!

Craigslist “Safe Lot”Here at AHPD

We’ve joined many other police departments around the country in offering our parking lots as safe locations where Craigslist transactions can be made.  There have been cases of robbery or homicide resulting from these transactions made at not so safe locations.

Our lot is under 24 hr surveillance and officers are coming and going at all hours so we think that will be safer for you.  We don’t want it to turn into an open air market place–people are coming into the police department for lots of reasons and we have to make room for them too.  We can’t participate in the transactions but we think we can be helpful just by being here.



Meet Our Veterans

Since today is Veteran’s Day we thought you’d like to meet the members of our department who served in the military and now continue that spirit of service in our public safety.

We are proud of them as members of our team and today is our opportunity to thank them for their military service.  Our veterans have made it possible for all of us to enjoy our freedoms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Coffee with a Cop – Auburn Hills Christian Center Yesterday

Thank you to Auburn Hills Christian Center who hosted us yesterday at their service and afterwards in their fellowship hour for coffee and donuts (they made a point to tell us they weren’t stereotyping us-we found it amusing).  We had a wonderful opportunity to meet their congregation and just talk.  Many people stayed after the service and talked with us and asked questions.  I enjoyed it and I could see that the officers enjoyed it too.  So often they get a steady diet of troubled people and people in trouble.  I think it was refreshing for them to be treated so graciously by such nice people–not a regular thing in their work world.

Our goal is to build a stronger relationship with our community and one way to meet people is through their houses of worship.  We know that houses of worship in this day and age have safety concerns and we can help-we want to help. I also think we can dispel some of the concerns people may have about the police officers based on recent media stories and events.  I want this community to share my confidence in the police officers of the AHPD.  And I think that can happen if they have an opportunity to meet them and know them.

We are hoping that other congregations will be willing to sponsor us at their services in the near future.  We look forward to it.

Here are a couple of pictures we took:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Problem Oriented Policing – Guest Blogger Lt. Ryan Gagnon

I recently had the opportunity of attending the 25th annPOPual Problem Oriented Policing conference in Portland, Oregon.  The Center for Problem Oriented Policing is a non-profit organization comprising of police practitioners, researchers, and universities who are dedicated to the advancement of problem oriented policing.  The center was established in 1999 with funding from U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Program).  The center produces POP guides which are distributed to individuals and agencies around the world.  There are now just under 200 guides available, which assist groups in addressing problems in their communities on a variety of topics and how others have handled specific problems in the past.  This has proven to be a valuable resource for law enforcement and the community.

In Auburn Hills we see ourselves as addressing and attempting to solve community problems rather than just responding to calls for service.  Some of our calls are repetitious so we attempt to discern a pattern and find strategies, using multiple community resources, to address the problem.  Arrests and citations are only one strategy.  Although it isn’t well known, only about 30% of our time is related to crime.  The rest of the time is largely given to the maintenance of social order–like responding to the mentally ill, policing crowds, things like that.  We look for better ways to address the non crime problems that occupy so many of our resources.

We have been using the problem oriented policing strategy toward addressing problems in our community for the last 10 years.  It was an excellent opportunity to hear from various speakers about problems they faced in their community and how they were able to solve them.  The information was current and shed light on various ways police departments are using strategies to improve relationships and partnerships in their communities.

The conference was attended by hundreds of people from around the world.  I was able to meet police professionals from England and Bermuda, as well as from small towns and big cities across the country.  One thing we all had in common was that we all have a desire to make our communities safe and take a serious look at the practices we are using to make sure that happens.

There were numerous classes to choose from every hour.  I tried to attend the ones most applicable to our community, where the information could be of value to use some day toward problems we may encounter.  Some of these classes included:

  • Implementing Problem Oriented Policing in the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and London, England Police Service. The strategic plans used to build this into their agencies culture.
  • Implementing and Sustaining Problem Solving in a Police Organization.
  • POP and Organizational Reform: The Cincinnati Experience. The challenges they faced in the early 2000’s.  It was very interesting to hear from the police and a community activist and how they have worked together to overcome a lot of tension over the years.
  • Crime and Disorder at Budget Motels in Tukwila, Washington.
  • The Police Response to Mentally Ill People in Dayton, Ohio and Manchester, England.
  • Policing Crowds in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There was valuable information that I gained from attending the conference that can be beneficial when handling problems in our community.  It re-affirmed for me that our agency takes matters, whether big or small, seriously and that we use the problem oriented policing strategies.  There is always room for improvement and I look forward to identifying areas where we can be more effective in our problem solving strategies.

Thank you to the city for the opportunity to attend.

Recent International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Chicago

I recently attended the International Chiefs of Police annual conference in Chicago.  Interestingly it created national news because the President of the United States spoke–no president had spoken to the IACP in 20 years they say.  Although I’ve been attending these conferences for 20 years and I don’t ever recall any president ever speaking, despite being invited every year.  I sat with Chief Mary Sclabassi of Taylor to hear his address.  The news has reported part of what he said but here is the whole address (it is about 1 hour long):

President Obama at IACP

and FBI Director James Comie’s remarks have become quite

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

controversial.  He suggested that police are hesitating to engage in distressed communities because of the potential of a viral video.  Both he and the president recognized that the police are not the solution to every social problem.  In some respects police are the scapegoats for problematic things society has not dealt with–like mental health, substandard housing, lack of jobs and opportunities, school discipline.

I agree that there needs to be recognition of what we need to do our jobs effectively.  There was comment about how police should rebuilt trust with their communities but no one mentions the impact of the economic recession on police.  Our work-forces have been reduced taking away time we used for community policing activities.  Our core responsibility is call response so that is where our resources must go it minimizes the time we have for  community problem solving and positive contact with kids.   While we attempt to do our best with what we have, there is no mistaking that there has been an impact.  Here are Comie’s comments in their entirety.

When I attended the General Assembly on Monday, October 26th I was thrilled to see AHPD Officer Farah Hilliker’s photo and caption from the IACP’s Why I Wear the Badge Twitter campaign as the first face on the video.  #WHYIWEARTHEBADGE video

As you might guess, the conference was particularly intense this year given all that has happened over the last 12 months.  But the discussion was good–I got information on many topics which is giving me lots to think about and consider. In particular we heard details about the 21st Century Policing Task Force report and what it means to our profession from top instructors from around the country. We heard from legal experts, psychologists, federal government attorneys, other chiefs from agencies large and small on best practices from their agencies.  We heard about terrorism, and current trends in force use and force use reporting, officer selection and training, sexual assault investigation in university towns and the current focus of the US Dept of Education and Dept of Justice on issues around Title IX among many others.

All of the Michigan police who attended the IACP including 58 from the MSP alone.

All of the Michigan police who attended the IACP including 58 from the MSP alone.

I met law enforcement officials from around the world since it truly is an international conference.

I appreciate the opportunity the city gives me to attend.  I learn the newest and the most significant trends in the policing world.

Getting to know our faith based community better

One of our objectives for this year is to improve our community churchesoutreach.  We want to meet you and hear your concerns.  We want you to know us so that you can feel confidence in us to do the right things for the right reasons.

One way we thought might make sense is to meet people is in their churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.  So to that end we’ve scheduled a Coffee with a Cop at the Auburn Hills Christian Center on Walton Boulevard on Sunday, November 8th immediately following their 10 am service.  Several of us will be there and we are excited to meet so many new people!  This is not just an event for this congregation only– it is open to the public.  The church has graciously offered to sponsor the coffee so stop by and see us for the service or at around 1130 when the service is over.  We will be there as long as we can.

hinduAdditionally, we have invited representatives of all of the faith based organizations in and near our community to meet with us on December 3rd here at the police department.  We hope it will be an open dialog and exchange about how we can serve their congregations and communities in effective ways.  We have been watching the news too and we know that faith based organizations may feel somewhat vulnerable these days.  We are here to help.  I hope this meeting will be the first of many.

Thanks to Pastor Cal of the Auburn Hills Christian Center for sponsoring our coffee event.  And thanks to Sgt Dave Miller for organizing this whole effort.

FBI cautions against ranking communities by reported crime statistics

A recent Oakland Press article “Oakland County Communities Again Among Safest in Michigan” is interesting reading.  However, the FBI cautions against using crime statistics to rank or compare communities because there are many factors to consider when evaluating community safety.  Here is their statement on the use of their data to rank communities:

Here in Auburn Hills we have some unique features to our community that impact reported crime.  We have a low population (21,000) but a large entertainment venue and shopping area as well as a very large interstate freeway presence. We double or triple our residential population every day but if you rank us based on reported crime and residential population we will always be out of whack.  We are a safe community that has a large transient population who comes here to work, be entertained, shop, dine and travel through.  A purely residential community will have a larger population and less reported crime.

Movember at the AHPD

There was mass excitement around here yesterday –it was the first day of November and we are embarking on a new effort–to raise funds for men’s health using the “power of the mustache.”

Now normally we run a pretty tight ship around here –no facial hair except neatly trimmed mustaches.  So as a result, there is a big interest in the opportunity to grow some facial hair.  So why not make it an opportunity to do it for a good cause?

So here are some staff photos of those who are just getting started.  Keep up with our Twitter feed and Facebook for some shots of how our looks are progressing over the month.  And if you feel so moved, we’d like your support in the form of monetary donations to our Movember website.  Click on the link to see our page and keep track of our efforts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What happens if I don’t get around to dealing with that traffic ticket?

This has come up a couple of times lately.  Drivers don’t seem to know that if they don’t respond to tickets they are subject to a default judgement which causes a suspended drivers license.  It is against the law to drive on a suspended license–you get arrested.  It is a common arrest and done by police everywhere.c-traffic-violations

Click here for the statute.

In the recent case where our officer was hit by a driver who refused to be arrested, she acknowledged that she had a traffic ticket she didn’t pay.  In fact, if she couldn’t pay or didn’t want to contest the ticket there are alternatives that can be set by the court, but it is important to contact the court within the time limit set on the bottom of the ticket.  If you fail to respond to the ticket or by its other name:  summons (as in, “you are being summoned to court”)  the court finds you in default and suspends your license to drive.  You get a letter and the court notifies the Secretary of State who puts the suspension into their computer system.  If a police officer runs the plate on your car –and they can do it for any reason–there isn’t a right to privacy on your license plate which is plainly visible to anyone driving down the road–it will tell the officer that the registered owner has a suspended license.  If you are the registered owner and the officer confirms that by looking at your license he or she must take the license and arrest you for driving while suspended.

It is the kind of arrest that we see all the time.  The driver is detained for 30 minutes or so while the ticket is written.  The car may be towed if it is on the roadway or it can be parked in a nearby parking lot and locked up.  If we take charge of it we will search it pursuant to impound –in other words if we have custody we have a right to know what it is in it so that your personal property can be protected.  So we search and complete a form detailing the contents of the car.  If something is missing later we know what was there when we had it.  But you get a tow bill which won’t be cheap.

Another driver we stopped and arrested for the same thing acknowledged to the officer that he knew he had an outstanding ticket.  He said he went to the Pontiac court but there was no record so he thought he was ok as a result of a paperwork problem.  Turned out not to be the case — our tickets go to the Rochester Hills Court 52nd-3rd, which is written on the bottom of the ticket.  He was arrested but to his credit he cooperated on the scene. I hope he went to court to contest the ticket–which is his right–or made some other arrangement with the court.

Would it make sense for all the court records to be connected so you could go to a court near you and at least find out what court you needed to appear in or pay your ticket near you?  Yes, it would make sense and yes it would be convenient and yes it could be done but no it isn’t possible now.  If you want to pay a ticket on line you can for some courts.  Click here: Pay your ticket on line

I don’t disagree that it is a crazy system.  But what are officers to do?  I guess we could stop writing tickets but is that what you really want? The person who ran into your car while speeding doesn’t get a ticket?

What is important here is responding to tickets.  If you don’t have the money to pay, still contact the court.  You could be assigned to driving school or make payments but if you ignore it your license will be suspended and fees and costs escalate rapidly.  I do know that once you are in the system with a suspended license it is extremely difficult and expensive to get out.

We are concerned about how expensive tickets have become.  You can see by the incident last Friday morning where our officer was injured on a traffic stop, that the police are taking the brunt of the public’s ire around this issue.  Our state like Missouri is a “pay or play” kind of system–if you don’t pay the ticket you can be arrested.  Better than Missouri, we don’t take people to jail from the scene–we issue another ticket but theoretically a judge could send you to jail if you are driving while suspended for a number of days.  I get the problem with that.

No matter what–the street is not the place to settle differences.  The ticket can be dealt with in court.  We ask people to cooperate for the safety of everyone.