Celebrate Turkey Day with a great dinner and a seatbelt

It happened again  – serious roadway crashes with ejections.  Yesterday morning we had a series of crashes on I-75 on the overpass over Joslyn Road.  The roadway was unexpectedly icy.  Sgt Leonard told me that it was so icy they couldn’t stand up when officers arrived.

Officers responded to a report of a crash involving more than one vehicle with 2 people ejected onto the roadway, one not moving.  The adrenalin goes into overdrive at that point, I can tell you.  They were expecting a fatality or maybe two.  When they arrived they  found the two ejected persons, teenagers, alive but injured.  Their father had been following them in another vehicle and was on scene.  I’m told the father actually saw each one ejected out of the windows.  I can’t imagine how he must have felt…

When I was briefed on it later, I was amazed at the limited injuries suffered by the ejected individuals.  They usually aren’t that lucky.  Preview: To Grandma's House

This is the holiday week when many people will be on the road visiting friends and family for their holiday.  So how many more ways can we say it?  WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!!

I’ve heard all the arguments against -like “I won’t be able to get out if my car catches on fire” or “I won’t be able to get out if the car goes in the water”  or “It will jam and I won’t be able to get out in a crash.”   Or “It wrinkles my clothes.”  Let me tell you–from a person who has investigated many crashes – SEATBELTS SAVE LIVES.  You will be far safer in the car in your belt and with your children in their appropriate car seat in the back seat than loose in the car. I’ve even heard older people talk about how we didn’t have them in the old days and we all survived.  No we didn’t.  I was there and too many children and adults died needlessly – some in awful ways.

I ALWAYS wear my seatbelt and the officers wear theirs.  They know it is the law and they also know that their chances for serious injuries are greatly minimized when they wear the belt and harness.

So get to Grandma’s house for your turkey dinner alive.


How Guns Become a Tool of Crime

I got an email today about an arrest that was executed yesterday for some dangerous, armed suspects who had been involved in armed robberies.

On 11/21/16 SIU executed a search warrant at a townhouse in Roseville to look for a suspect who had an outstanding arrest warrant for armed robbery.  The suspect was found hiding in a hall closet, and taken into custody without incident.  During the search a pistol with a loaded 30 round magazine was found next to a bed where a second male was detained.  That pistol was registered to an Auburn Hills resident and had not been reported stolen.  Contact was made with the Auburn Hills resident who was unaware the gun had been stolen.  Investigation is continuing to determine if Roseville will attempt to charge the second male with R&C stolen property for the pistol.

If you are a gun owner, make sure you know where your weapon is and that it is properly secured.  It doesn’t have to be a home invasion for a gun to disappear.  It could be a trusted friend or friend of a friend–or worker in your home.  Or your kids or your kids friends. Any number of ways in which your gun could be stolen and then used as an instrument of crime.  Thank God that these arrests had a safe outcome.  Usually people with warrants for violent crime who keep loaded pistols nearby have violent intentions.  I’m thankful the officers are all safe.

Since the gun was registered it will be returned to the rightful owner.  Many of the guns we seize involved in crime have not been registered and so have no ownership information.

Great Lakes Crossings Has Major Traffic Improvements This Year

I know that traffic on the lots at Great Lakes Crossings and on the surface streets has been a problem in years past.  It is fun to have some holiday hustle and bustle but it got to be too much at certain points.

Taubman Company, owners of Great Lakes Crossings Outlets also recognized the problem and earlier this year took the lead on improving the situation.  They hired a traffic engineering firm to conduct a study.  When they got their results, we and the Road Commission for Oakland County met with them and their engineers to review the results and determine an action plan.

The report suggested several things to be done to avoid that problematic gridlock that happens.  We have been working together on these multiple fixes since spring:

  1. Traffic on Baldwin Road near the McDonald’s no longer can make U-turns from southbound to northbound since it conflicts with traffic going in and out of the mall’s main entrance.  Traffic control orders were changed and roadway striping was changed. Don’t make a U-turn here – you’ll get a ticket. Baldwin
  2. The mall added “channelization” lanes at two locations which are the pinch points – the McDonald’s driveway and Steak and Shake driveway allowing for a free flow of traffic instead of having each vehicle make a stop at the stop sign.  Channelization

    The free flow right turn inbound by Steak and Shake

    will be added at the intersection with the roadway on Great Lakes Crossings Drive but not until next year.

  3. New traffic signal on Great Lakes Crossings Drive also near Steak and Shake.  It is up and will be running by Black Friday.  new-glc-signal
  4. The bus stops have been moved to the outer ring road with a pull off lane for the busses.  In the past they obstructed traffic movement on the inner ring due to their stop and go.  There are nice, new shelters with heat for patrons.

So if you are considering Great Lakes Crossings but are concerned about traffic conditions, worry no longer.  Traffic will be moving efficiently this year.  We will be on hand to keep track of things and direct as needed to make sure it is going smoothly.  We also have extra patrols both in the mall and around the entire shopping area in our city just to help you feel safer.  The officers appreciate the holiday mood of the shoppers so stop and say hi if you see them.

Just today I attended a lunch meeting and heard the marketing manager from GLC talking about the cool new stores at Great Lakes – outlet stores that aren’t found anywhere else in Michigan like Kate Spade and Shinola.  Not to mention the restaurants and entertainment.  The mall won’t be open overnight this year, here is a link to their hours over the weekend:  GLC hours.

Have a great Thanksgiving and when you’ve eaten all the turkey and dressing you want, come on over and get a jump start on your shopping.  I’ll be over there on Friday – I’ll look for you.


The Challenges of Body Worn Cameras

I am frequently asked about body worn cameras for police.  Do we use them?  Are we going to them?   That is a very challenging question, more than is apparent on its face.  Body Image result for body worn cameras policeworn cameras are seen by many advocates as a method for police accountability.  But it isn’t that simple.  It is also, and maybe more importantly, a method of government surveillance in both public and private places.  Right now most police use dashboard cameras and the officers wear microphones.  The big difference is that the camera is attached to the car and only records in PUBLIC places where the car is located.  Not in someone’s home.

The public records laws make that video available to anyone who asks.  So if a police officer came to your home and you answered personal questions as a part of their investigation, all of that video would be available.  Is that really what we want?

I’ve included a link to an excellent article from the New York Times on this topic.  It details the experience of the Seattle Police Department with a body worn camera test and their interaction with a citizen who thought he wanted to expose these videos with few if any restrictions.  You can see some of their videos on YouTube now if you search.  It doesn’t seem as thought he found what he expected to find.  You can form your own opinion.

Should We See Everything a Cop Sees?

Polls Will Be Safe and Orderly in Auburn Hills

Recently I read an article that said more than 51% of American were concerned about violence on Election Day:

Citing campaign tenor, schools cancel class for Election Day

…A 51% majority of likely voters express at least some concern about the possibility of violence on Election Day; one in five are “very concerned.” Three of four say they have confidence that the United States will have the peaceful transfer of power that has marked American democracy for more than 200 years, but just 40% say they are “very confident” about that, the poll found…

Given these concerns, Lt Ryan Gagnon and I met with our City Clerk, Terri Kowal to see what we could do to help voters feel safe.

During our discussion, Terri, a credentialed clerk of long-standing, let us know that she thought it was virtually impossible to “rig” a Michigan election since we use paper ballots which can’t be hacked.   She also pointed out that every day the voter registration list is matched against the driver registration files of the Secretary of State so she can see who is eligible to vote and maintain accurate files.  She is certain that it is very difficult to “rig” the election and is confident that Auburn Hills will not be a place where there are election irregularities.

Nonetheless I suppose there will be some people who will come to the polling locations in an agitated state and confront people on the other side of the election who feel equally agitated.  We already know that presidential election years generate the largest number of voters and we expect the same this year.Image result for voting

Here in Auburn Hills we have a long history of civil behavior among competing factions and good demeanor at our polling locations.  Just to be sure however, officers will be circulating through the parking lots just in case someone decides to be disruptive and attempt to intimidate voters.  It is important to note that our only role is to keep the peace.  We assure that people are able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.  If you have heard that the Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed a candidate don’t read that as an endorsement by our police.  That was done at a national level and our officers aren’t members of the FOP.   No matter what, we don’t let anyone’s endorsements direct our actions – the Constitution, decisions of the Supreme Court and election laws guide our actions.  If you see the police at your polling place know we won’t be inside unless someone calls us to be there.    We do not make decisions or rulings on who can vote, what they can wear while voting, who can stand how close, etc.  Those laws are enforced by election officials.

Because of the concerns, Lt Gagnon will be out and about along with the regular patrols starting at 6 am and I will be staying through until polls close to assist regular patrols who will already be occupied with our normal business.

You may see us stop by in the parking lots of the polling places just to say HI.  If you need something, feel free to flag us down.  Call 911 if there is an immediate problem just as you usually do.

I’m sure that we’ll all be glad when it is over.

Just for your information here is a link to Michigan election laws including do’s and don’ts at the polling locations.   actionable_election_day_offenses_472371_7


No Creepy Clown Sightings in Auburn Hills Confirmed

We also have been watching the news stories from around the country on the “creepy clown” sightings.  There was a robbery of a drug store in Brownstown Twp recently where the robber wore a clown disguise.  Nothing new about robbers wearing disguises while committing their crimes just not clown disguises–until recently.  Troy Police warned pranksters to stay out of neighborhoods.  In  Lake Orion a man took a photo of a person in a clown suit walking around.

We have only been dispatched to one call and the call was made by a third party who was not on scene and could provide no details.  It was in an apartment complex near the university.  Oakland University has also experienced a few calls from 3rd parties but they have not yet been able to verify if there was a “scary clown” on campus.  We agree it can be creepy and we wonder what they could be doing.  It isn’t against the law to walk around in a clown outfit.  Nonetheless, if anyone, including clowns, trespasses or harasses people or commits another crime like an assault–they can be arrested.

For those pranksters out there who find it amusing to scare people by engaging in this they should keep in mind that it could have serious consequences for them–if others feel threatened by the whole creepy clown thing they may feel that they should defend themselves and the clown could be in danger.  We recommend not engaging in this practice.  It could have unintended consequences.


Recently Time magazine did a piece on the whole craze including how it seems to have started.  Click here for the article.

We take each call seriously and investigate as quickly as we can.  So if you see a person who is wearing a clown disguise and feel concerned or threatened in Auburn Hills, please call us as quickly as you can at 248-370-9444 to report.  If you call us quickly we have the best chance of locating the individual to find out what they are doing.




Cops in Pink

For the next month we are going to deviate from our normally strict appearance rules for a very good reason:  we want to show our support for the fight against breast cancer.

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 donate to the Pink Fund 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 know that that for people undergoing treatment the financial burden is tremendous.  The Pink Fund helps provide financial support.

We are asking for your help too –we are selling pink bracelets for $5 here at the Public Safety Building.  All proceeds go to the Pink Fund a 501(c)(3) charity that provides financial assistance to women undergoing treatment.  We are working with our partners in the Auburn Hills Fire Department so the bracelets are imprinted with “Auburn Hills Police and Fire Departments.”   We know that some of our colleagues in other local communities are participating as well.  Send me your photos of officers you meet wearing pink and I’ll post them on this blog:  dolko@auburnhills.org.   Keep an eye on our social media–we will be posting photos of officers in pink. Twitter  and Facebook.

If you’d like to show your support stop by our desk and buy a bracelet  or donate to our effort —here is how you can help:  click here.

We appreciate your support.

Why our speed limits sometimes change:  USA Today: Speed limits: Tried and true, or invalid?

From USA Today

Speed limits: Tried and true, or invalid?


Follow the speed limit.It’s a simple task most drivers do successfully every day. But there’s still a small part of the driving population that travels above or below it. We might think these drivers are just not abiding by a law that’s been set for a reason, but what if instead of the driver, the speed limit is incorrect?In St. Clair County, it’s possible, because some speed limits were set in the 1940s and haven’t changed since. The most recent speed limit set on a county road was St. John Drive in 2005 in Clay Township.This was just before the passage of Public Act 85 of 2006, which mandates that cities, townships and villages complete speed studies or access-point counts to justify their speed limits.